Research on Diseases

CancerShown are merged fluorescent microscopy images of co-cultured human melanoma cell line variants expressing genetically encoded, either red or green fluorescent labels in cell nuclei, an experimental model system that allowed in vivo lineage tracking of ABCB5+ melanoma stem cells. Image courtesy of Markus Frank, MD, Children's Hospital Boston.

Cancer does not discriminate—it can affect any patient, old or young. When caught early, many types of cancer are treatable through chemotherapy or radiation.

However, there are certain cancers that keep on growing despite doctors’ best efforts. One possible explanation for this phenomenon is that cancer cells with stem cell properties enable cancers to perpetuate even after treatment. These particular cells are known as “cancer stem cells” .

While doctors at Boston Children’s Hospital continue to use the latest innovations to treat cancer, stem cell researchers have taken an interest in what cancer stem cells can teach us about how to tackle the disease.

Our work with stem cells includes:

  • Treating leukemia and other blood cancers with bone marrow transplants
  • A phase I trial for a drug to boost blood cell production in leukemia patients undergoing treatment
  • Distinguishing leukemia stem cells from healthy blood stem cells
  • Searching for cancer stem cells in lung cancer
  • Finding new ways to attack skin cancer stem cells



  • Cancer at Children’s

    Dana-Farber/Children’s Hospital Cancer Care, the integrated pediatric oncology program at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Children’s Hospital Boston, provides–in one specialized program–all the services of both a leading cancer center and a pediatric hospital. Click here for more information on how we can help your child.