What Can We Learn about Breast Cancer from Stem Cells?

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To survive into adulthood, long-lived organisms such as man need to maintain the many diverse organs and tissues that are necessary for the myriads of essential functions such as absorption of nutrients, protection from infection, and replacement of cells damaged by insults including toxins, radiation and trauma. This need to constantly replenish the mature cells of a tissue presents a particularly vexing problem for complex multicellular animals. Cells must be able to replicate in order to replace the old or damaged cells, but this replication must be tightly regulated to prevent the accumulation of errors that result in the development of tumors and eventually cancer (1,2).