Cancer stem cells and therapeutic targets: an emerging field for cancer treatment
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Recent paradigm in the field of cancer defines its origin from a small population of fast-growing cells known as cancer stem cells (CSCs), and they are mainly responsible for disease aggressiveness, drug resistance, and tumor relapse. The existence of CSCs has been proven in different types of cancer and possesses characteristic expression of a wide array of cell surface markers specific to the type of cancer. CSCs have been isolated and enriched using several surface markers in different cancer types. Self-renewal, drug resistance, and the ability to transition from epithelial to mesenchymal phenotype are the major features attributed to this fraction of mutated stem cells. The CSC hypothesis proposes that these CSCs mimic stem cells by sharing similar pathways, such as Wnt, SHH, Notch, and others. Further, the niche, which in this case is the tumor microenvironment, plays a very important role in the maintenance of CSCs. Altogether, this emerging field of research on CSCs is expected to unveil answers to the most difficult issues of one of the most dreadful diseases called cancer.
KeywordsCancer stem cells Drug resistance CSC markers Therapy targets
The authors on this article were supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health (RO1 CA138791, EDRN UO1CA111294, SPORE P50CA127297, and TMEN U54CA163120). The authors acknowledge the invaluable support from Mrs. Kavita Mallya.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare no conflict of interest.
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