Dr. Weeks’ Comment: More research is validating our early focus on cancer stem cells. Eventually your oncologist will hear about them…. I suggest you ask your oncologists about how he or she would treat your cancer STEM cells.
Cancer stem cells: the development of new cancer therapeutics
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Introduction: Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are a subpopulation of tumor cells with indefinite proliferative potential that drive the growth of tumors. CSCs seem to provide a suitable explanation for several intriguing aspects of cancer pathophysiology.
Areas covered: An explosion of therapeutic options for cancer treatment that selectively target CSCs has been recorded in the recent years. These include the targeting of cell-surface proteins, various activated signalling pathways, different molecules of the stem cell niche and various drug resistance mechanisms. Importantly, approaching cancer research by investigating the pathogenesis of these intriguing cancer cells is increasing the knowledge of the pathophysiology of the disease, emphasizing certain molecular mechanisms that have been partially neglected.
Expert opinion: The characterization of the molecular phenotype of these cancer stem-like cells, associated with an accurate definition of their typical derangement in cell differentiation, can represent a fundamental advance in terms of diagnosis and therapy of cancer. Preliminary results seem to be promising but further studies are required to define the therapeutic index of this new anticancer treatment. Moreover, understanding the pathogenetic mechanisms of CSCs can expand the therapeutic applications of normal adult stem cells by reducing the risk of uncontrolled tumorigenic stem cell differentiation.