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Curr Pathobiol Rep. 2013 Jun 1;1(2):111-118.

Cancer Stem Cells: A Moving Target.

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McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, Department of Pathology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA 15219, USA ; RiMed Foundation, 90133 Palermo, Italy.


Even though the number of anti-cancer drugs entering clinical trials and approved by the FDA has increased in recent years, many cancer patients still experience poor survival outcome. The main explanation for such a dismal prognosis is that current therapies might leave behind a population of cancer cells with the capacity for long-term self-renewal, so-called cancer stem cells (CSCs), from which most tumors are believed to be derived and fueled. CSCs might favor local and distant recurrence even many years after initial treatment, thus representing a potential target for therapies aimed at improving clinical outcome. In this review, we will address the CSC hypothesis with a particular emphasis on its current paradigms and debates, and discuss several mechanisms of CSC resistance to conventional therapies.


ABC transporters; CSCs; Cancer; Cancer stem cells; DNA repair; Drug resistance; Genomic instability; Pathobiology

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