Closer Look at Cancer Stem Cells Should Help Hasten Mesothelioma Drugs

Treatment & Doctors
Reading Time: 3 mins
Publication Date: 05/17/2012
Fact Checked
Our fact-checking process begins with a thorough review of all sources to ensure they are high quality. Then we cross-check the facts with original medical or scientific reports published by those sources, or we validate the facts with reputable news organizations, medical and scientific experts and other health experts. Each page includes all sources for full transparency.
Reviewed is the nation’s most trusted mesothelioma resource

The Mesothelioma Center at has provided patients and their loved ones the most updated and reliable information on mesothelioma and asbestos exposure since 2006.

Our team of Patient Advocates includes a medical doctor, a registered nurse, health services administrators, veterans, VA-accredited Claims Agents, an oncology patient navigator and hospice care expert. Their combined expertise means we help any mesothelioma patient or loved one through every step of their cancer journey.

More than 30 contributors, including mesothelioma doctors, survivors, health care professionals and other experts, have peer-reviewed our website and written unique research-driven articles to ensure you get the highest-quality medical and health information.

About The Mesothelioma Center at

  • Assisting mesothelioma patients and their loved ones since 2006.
  • Helps more than 50% of mesothelioma patients diagnosed annually in the U.S.
  • A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.
  • 5-star reviewed mesothelioma and support organization.
Learn More About Us


"My family has only the highest compliment for the assistance and support that we received from The Mesothelioma Center. This is a staff of compassionate and knowledgeable individuals who respect what your family is experiencing and who go the extra mile to make an unfortunate diagnosis less stressful. Information and assistance were provided by The Mesothelioma Center at no cost to our family."
Mesothelioma patient’s daughter
  • Google Review Rating
  • BBB Review Rating

How to Cite’s Article


Povtak, T. (2020, October 16). Closer Look at Cancer Stem Cells Should Help Hasten Mesothelioma Drugs. Retrieved February 1, 2023, from


Povtak, Tim. "Closer Look at Cancer Stem Cells Should Help Hasten Mesothelioma Drugs.", 16 Oct 2020,


Povtak, Tim. "Closer Look at Cancer Stem Cells Should Help Hasten Mesothelioma Drugs." Last modified October 16, 2020.

Researchers in Singapore have uncovered new technology for studying cancer stem cells that could spark quicker development of a more effective therapy to fight mesothelioma.

The findings came from the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanatechnology and should help scientists better understand why mesothelioma often does not respond to chemotherapy drugs and radiation that work with other cancers.

Mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer caused by an exposure to asbestos, has no cure and a diagnosis normally comes with life expectancy of 6 to 18 months.

The research was centered on cancer stem cells, which comprise only 1 percent of a normal cancer tumor.  They traditionally are more resistant to chemotherapy and often repopulate a tumor even after much of it has been destroyed. The stem cells are what leads to cancer recurrence.

Researchers in the past have been frustrated by the time and expense that it takes to test different anti-cancer drugs with the stem cells in the laboratory. In the past, conventional drug-screening methods have required large sample volumes that were in short supply.

Droplet Array Assay a Breakthrough in Nanotechnology

The new technology includes miniaturized biological assay called Droplet Array. It will be less expensive, faster and more convenient for drug screenings. And it will require only limited samples because it uses a miniaturized biochip.

“The Droplet Array marks a significant breakthrough in nanotechnology and lab-on-a-chip concepts, and provides an efficient platform for accelerating drug screening and development,” said Jackie Ying, lead researcher, in a news release issued by the Institute. “We hope this finding will facilitate the development of more effective cancer drugs.”

Using the Droplet Array, for example, researchers there were able to investigate the response to chemotherapy drug doxorubicin, using small amounts of stem cells from breast, liver and colon cancers.

What they found, and later confirmed by tests using laboratory mice, was that the cancer stem cells were resistant to the drug, while the majority of the cancer cells were not.

Cancer tumor cells — without the stem cells — implanted in mice did not return after being treated with doxorubicin. But mice with the cancer stem cells showed tumor regrowth, despite the treatment with doxorubicin. It confirmed the inability of the drug to stop the stem cell growth.

“The study of cancer stem cells, in particular, is an exciting application of this technology for both academic and pharmaceutical industries,” Ying said. “We hope to leverage on the Droplet Array’s capabilities to complement/replace animal models for drug toxicity testing, and develop new cancer diagnostics.”

The miniaturized biochip is designed for ease of use and is compatible with most existing laboratory instruments. It also reduces set-up costs and any need for additional equipment, according to the Institute, the first bioengineering and nanotechnology research institute in the world.

Medically Reviewed by Top Mesothelioma Doctors
Free Mesothelioma Guide