Researchers have found a new feature of cancer stem cells that may be used with existing cancer treatments to help prevent cancer recurrence. The study was reported in Cell Chemical Biology.

They found that a protein called Sam68 plays an important role in cancer stem cells and is particularly overexpressed in breast, blood, or colon cancers. Drugs that target the Wnt pathway can be particularly effective in cancers that overexpress Sam68, and many are currently being studied or are in other phases of development.

The researchers explained that their finding is significant for two reasons. First, testing patients’ cancer stem cells for Sam68 will allow practitioners to target treatment to the patients in which it will be most effective. Second, because Sam68 works with currently available drugs, it will accelerate the timeline for treatments to be available for patients.