bladder epithelial cell cartoon

Targeting Epithelial Cells in Bladder Cancer

(This is a summary of the state of bladder cancer in the US, along with summaries of two recent bladder cancer research studies using Lifeline® Normal Human Bladder Epithelial Cells.)

Bladder cancer is the 9th leading cause of cancer in the US.  In 2015, the American Cancer Society predicts that 74,000 people will be diagnosed with this disease.

Bladder cancer is usually diagnosed in elderly people — the average age of diagnosis is 73.  The good news: the 5-year survival rate is high for early stage bladder cancer (88% for Stage 1).   More survival stats

The signs and symptoms of bladder cancer include:

  • The presence of blood in urine
  • Painful or frequent urination
  • The need but inability to urinate

Common causes of bladder cancer include:

  • Smoking
  • Environmental exposure to toxins or carcinogens
  • Genetic predispositions (mutations in proto-oncogenes)

Bladder cancer usually originates in the epithelial cell lining of the bladder. In fact, over 90% of all bladder cancers are urothelial cell carcinomas that arise in the transitional epithelial cells of the bladder.  The other 10% include lymphomas (lymph nodes) and sarcomas (muscle).

There are three categories of bladder cancer described by the TNM system:

  • Primary Tumor
  • Lymph Nodes
  • Metastasis

Primary tumors start in the epithelial lining of the bladder and can expand past the bladder wall into other nearby tissues. Cancer cells can then enter the lymph nodes located near the bladder (a common first target) or metastasize and spread into organs and tissues throughout the body. Within these categories, there are multiple stages that describe the advancement of each tumor.

Various treatments for bladder cancer are pursued depending on the classification and stage of the tumor. Common treatments for primary tumors include surgical removal, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy.

For recurring or more advanced tumors, cystectomy (removal of the bladder or parts of the bladder) is recommended. Additionally, a chemotherapy regimen called MVAC (Methotrexate, Vinblastine, Adriamycin, and Cisplatin) can be administered followed by cystectomy.

Numerous labs, hospitals, and medical centers around the world are currently working on bladder cancer research. The main tools that they are using for their experiments are healthy, normal bladder cells and bladder cancer cells.

The American Cancer Society had encouraging words to say about bladder cancer research:

“Scientists have made great progress in learning about the differences between normal cells and bladder cancer cells. They are also finding out how these differences make cells grow too much and spread to other parts of the body.”

Lifeline® Bladder Epithelial Cells in Recent Cancer Research Studies

Here are two recent studies from a group at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine that used Lifeline® normal bladder epithelial cell lines to explore the potential of an anti-bladder cancer treatment:

  • Knowles et al. discovered that the peptide CLT1 has anti-angiogenic properties, and further confirmed this peptide as a promising treatment for bladder and other cancers. They explored the mechanism behind CLT1’s anti-angiogenic properties and found that CLT1, fibronectin, and CLIC1 (a protein that promotes internalization of CLT1 into endothelial cells) localized in angiogenic blood vessels in vivo. They also found that CLT1 treatment inhibited angiogenesis and bladder tumor growth, but did not induce toxicity in normal, healthy bladder epithelial cells.
  • In a separate study, Knowles et al. assessed the potential of CLT1 for the treatment of high-grade non-muscle-invasive bladder cancer. They discovered that CLT1 was toxic in bladder cancer cell lines and not to Lifeline® normal human bladder epithelial cells. This was due to the formation of cytotoxic complexes containing CLT1 and fibronectin that were internalized by cancer cells and caused autophagy-mediated cell death.

Normal Human Bladder Epithelial Cells – Dome and Apex – from Lifeline®

For your own experiments, Lifeline® offers normal human bladder epithelial cells from two locations within the bladder: the apex and dome.

Both cell lines are cryopreserved as primary cells to give you cells that behave most similarly to how they would in vivo. Bladder epithelial cells perform optimally in UroLife™ Bladder Medium, available in a Complete Kit (with Basal Medium and UroLife LifeFactors).  UroLife™ culture medium guarantees at least 15 population doublings and is free of phenol red and antimicrobials.

What interests you in the bladder cancer field?

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