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Once a tumor cell, always a tumor cell? - The potential of redifferentiation

Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) develops predominantly from neuroendocrine cells. Under normal culture conditions, SCLC cells grow in suspension and adhere only to a limited amount. Upon appropriate changes of the culture conditions (Fig. 1, I and II) adherent SCLC cells exhibit a neuron-like phenotype and reduce the proliferation rate. Around two thirds of all cell lines examined show these properties. - This approach could be utilized to develop new therapies.

Figure 1: When cultured on treated plastic surfaces, SCLC cells flatten (A). Appropriate modifications of the culture conditions lead to the formation of neurite-like extensions and a reduced cell division rate (B). The schematic views are exemplified by micrographs.

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