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[Research] Scientists discover origin of cell mask that hides stomach cancer

A layer of cells that look like normal stomach lining on top of sites of stomach cancer can make it difficult to spot after removal of a Helicobacter pylori infection. In a recent study, researchers from Hiroshima University have uncovered the origin of this layer of cells: it is produced by the cancer tissue itself.

Extraction methods for cancerous tissue, normal tissue, and ELA. The red dotted line indicates epithelium of low-grade atypia (ELA) covering the surface of gastric cancer tissue in upper image. ELA (Red) and cancerous tissues (Blue) extracted by Laser Microdissection in lower image. Credit: Hiroshima University.

Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is a type of bacteria that lives in people’s stomachs. To survive the harsh environment these bacteria can neutralize stomach acid. H. pylori is the leading cause of stomach cancer, one of the most common types of cancer which can have a low survival rate. The bacteria cause inflammation by injecting a toxin-like substance into mucosal cells that line the stomach. This destruction and regeneration of these cells can lead to the development of stomach cancer.

In this study Professor Kazuaki Chayama, from Hiroshima University Hospital, and his team found the origins of a strange layer of cells that was present on stomach cancer sites after treatment of H. pylori. This layer, called ELA (epithelium with low-grade atypia), resembled normal mucosal cells that line the stomach and acted like a mask to hide stomach cancer. 

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Full bibliographic information

Journal: Journal of gastroenterology
Title: Genomic landscape of epithelium with low-grade atypia on gastric cancer after Helicobacter pylori eradiation therapy
Authors:  Masuda, K., Urabe, Y., Ito, M. et al.
DOI:10.1007/s00535-019-01596-4

[Media Contact]
Norifumi Miyokawa
Research Planning Office, Hiroshima University

E-mail: pr-research*office.hiroshima-u.ac.jp (Please change * into @)


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