Stem cells, the precursor of all our natural organs such as skin, heart and lungs have the potential to be both good and evil with the p53 gene identified as the possible cancer or brain-cell 'switch'.

Genes such as p53 - known as oncogenes because they were first identified as cancer-causing - have now shown they can cause the development of 'brain' material as well as cancer from the laboratories at USC.

"When you turn off p53, people think the cell becomes cancerous because we tend to focus on the bad thing," said Jiang F. Zhong, Ph.D., assistant professor of pathology at University of Southern California.

"What is a stem cell gene? What is a cancer gene? It may be the same thing."

His research team believe the p53 gene to cause the cell to become more both 'good or bad': "Let's say the cell is like a person who loses his job (because of p53). He could become a criminal or he could find another job and have a positive effect on society."

Published by Medicaldaily.com