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Drug Deliv Transl Res. 2013 Apr;3(2):113-20. doi: 10.1007/s13346-012-0095-x.

Cancer stem cells and therapeutic targets: an emerging field for cancer treatment.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE, U.S.A.


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.


CSC markers and Therapy targets; Cancer stem cells; Drug Resistance

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