Recent research on the origin of brain cancer has implicated a subpopulation of self-renewing brain cancer stem cells for malignant tumour growth. Various genes that regulate self-renewal in normal stem cells are also found in cancer stem cells. This implies that cancers can occur because of mutations in normal stem cells and early progenitor cells. A predictive mathematical model based on the cell compartment method is presented here to pose and validate non-intuitive scenarios proposed through the neural cancer stem cell hypothesis. The growths of abnormal (stem and early progenitor) cells from their normal counterparts are ascribed with separate mutation probabilities. Stem cell mutations are found to be more significant for the development of cancer than a similar mutation in the early progenitor cells. The model also predicts that, as previously hypothesized, repeated insult to mature cells increases the formation of abnormal progeny, and hence the risk of cancer.
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