Hokkaido University Research Profiles

Life Sciences

Establishment of Precision Medicine Targeting Cancer Stem Cells Using Synthetic Polymer Gels

Development of a method to initialize cancer stem cells using hydrogel

It is important to eradicate cancer stem cells to cure cancer. This method uses Hokkaido University's original biomaterial (synthetic polymeric hydrogel) to induce reprogramming (initialization) of cancer stem cells rapidly and efficiently, making it possible to predict the properties of cancer stem cells and their response to treatment in case of recurrence.

Content of research

It is essential to eradicate treatment-resistant cancer stem cells to cure cancer. However, their number is small, and it is difficult to isolate and analyze cancer stem cells using conventional methods. With this study, we used a synthetic polymeric hydrogel (Science 344, 161-162, 2014) originally developed by Hokkaido University to induce reprogramming (initialization) of cancer stem cells rapidly, easily, inexpensively, and efficiently, allowing us to analyze the properties of cancer stem cells, evaluate their response to treatment, and predict the properties of cancer cells at the time of recurrence. This technology is expected to make it possible to screen drugs that target cancer stem cells, predict the nature of recurrent tumors that may occur in the future, and administer prophylactic drugs, thereby providing cancer patients with accurate cancer stem cell-targeted precision medicine (preventive preemptive medicine).

  • Cancer stem cell induction by hydrogel. Sphere formation (B) of brain tumor cells on hydrogel (A) and induction of the expression of the cancer stem cell marker, Sox2 (C).

  • A cancer stem cell diagnostic model using hydrogel originally developed by Hokkaido University. Induction of cancer stem cells on the hydrogel and analysis of their properties are expected to make it possible to determine the appropriate therapeutic agent for each individual cancer patient.

Potential for social implementation

  • ・Cancer stem cell in vitro diagnostic kit
  • ・Screening of anticancer drugs in cancer patients
  • ・Prediction of the nature of recurrent cancer and provision of optimal preventive drugs

Appealing points to industry and local governments

By inducing cancer stem cells using synthetic polymer hydrogels and analyzing the properties and genetic mutations of cancer stem cells, it will be possible to provide cancer stem cell-targeted cancer therapy that is appropriate for each cancer patient. By doing so, we aim to establish new cancer stem cell diagnostic technology using hydrogel as the starting point, and to create therapeutic methods.

Intellectual property related to this research

特願2017-028833 「癌幹細胞の製造方法」