, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp 165-182
Date: 13 Jun 2012

Novel strategies targeting cancer stem cells through phytochemicals and their analogs

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Abstract

Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are cells that exist within a tumor with a capacity of self-renewal and an ability to differentiate, giving rise to heterogeneous populations of cancer cells. These cells are increasingly being implicated in resistance to conventional therapeutics and have also been implicated in tumor recurrence. Several cellular signaling pathways including Notch, Wnt, phosphoinositide-3-kinase–Akt–mammalian target of rapamycin pathways, and known markers such as CD44, CD133, CD166, ALDH, etc. have been associated with CSCs. Here, we have reviewed our current understanding of self-renewal pathways and factors that help in the survival of CSCs with special emphasis on those that have been documented to be modulated by well characterized natural agents such as curcumin, sulforaphane, resveratrol, genistein, and epigallocatechin gallate. With the inclusion of a novel derivative of curcumin, CDF, we showcase how natural agents can be effectively modified to increase their efficacy, particularly against CSCs. We hope that this article will generate interest among researchers for further mechanistic and clinical studies exploiting the cancer preventive and therapeutic role of nutraceuticals by targeted elimination of CSCs.