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World J Gastroenterol. 2010 Aug 21;16(31):3871-7.

Therapeutic implications of colon cancer stem cells.


Colorectal cancer is the second most common cause of cancer-related death in many industrialized countries and is characterized by a heterogenic pool of cells with distinct differentiation patterns. Recently, the concept that cancer might arise from a rare population of cells with stem cell-like properties has received support with regard to several solid tumors, including colorectal cancer. According to the cancer stem cell hypothesis, cancer can be considered a disease in which mutations either convert normal stem cells into aberrant counterparts or cause a more differentiated cell to revert toward a stem cell-like behaviour; either way these cells are thought to be responsible for tumor generation and propagation. The statement that only a subset of cells drives tumor formation has major implications for the development of new targeted therapeutic strategies aimed at eradicating the tumor stem cell population. This review will focus on the biology of normal and malignant colonic stem cells, which might contribute to our understanding of the mechanisms responsible for tumor development and resistance to therapy.

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