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The gene mutations driving cancer have been tracked for the first time in patients back to a distinct set of cells at the root of cancer – cancer stem cells.

The international research team, led by scientists at the University of Oxford and the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, studied a group of patients with myelodysplastic syndromes – a malignant blood condition which frequently develops into acute myeloid leukaemia.

The researchers say their findings, reported in the journal Cancer Cell, offer conclusive evidence for the existence of cancer stem cells.

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