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Mol Carcinog. 2011 Apr;50(4):254-63. doi: 10.1002/mc.20631.

Origin and maintenance of the intestinal cancer stem cell.

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Cardiff School of Biosciences, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK.


Colorectal cancer is one of the most common cancers in the western world and its incidence is steadily increasing. Understanding the basic biology of both the normal intestine and of intestinal tumorigenesis is vital for developing appropriate and effective cancer therapies. However, relatively little is known about the normal intestinal stem cell or the hypothetical intestinal cancer stem cell, and there is much debate surrounding these areas. This review briefly describes our current understanding of the properties of both the intestinal stem cell and the intestinal cancer stem cell. We also discuss recent theories regarding the origin of the intestinal cancer stem cell, and the signals required for its maintenance and proliferation. Finally, we place the relevance of cancer stem cell research into context by discussing potential clinical applications of targeting the intestinal cancer stem cell.

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