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BMC Cancer. 2016 Sep 30;16(Suppl 2):738.

In vitro models of cancer stem cells and clinical applications.

Author information

Szent István University, Gödöllö, Hungary.
Biotalentum Ltd., Gödöllö, Hungary.
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.
Center of Excellence in Genomic Medicine Research (CEGMR), King AbdulAziz University, Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Department of Veterinary Preclinical Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Surrey, Guildford, Surrey, UK.
Szent István University, Gödöllö, Hungary.
Biotalentum Ltd., Gödöllö, Hungary.
Department of Farm Animal Health, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands.


Cancer cells, stem cells and cancer stem cells have for a long time played a significant role in the biomedical sciences. Though cancer therapy is more effective than it was a few years ago, the truth is that still none of the current non-surgical treatments can cure cancer effectively. The reason could be due to the subpopulation called "cancer stem cells" (CSCs), being defined as those cells within a tumour that have properties of stem cells: self-renewal and the ability for differentiation into multiple cell types that occur in tumours.The phenomenon of CSCs is based on their resistance to many of the current cancer therapies, which results in tumour relapse. Although further investigation regarding CSCs is still needed, there is already evidence that these cells may play an important role in the prognosis of cancer, progression and therapeutic strategy. Therefore, long-term patient survival may depend on the elimination of CSCs. Consequently, isolation of pure CSC populations or reprogramming of cancer cells into CSCs, from cancer cell lines or primary tumours, would be a useful tool to gain an in-depth knowledge about heterogeneity and plasticity of CSC phenotypes and therefore carcinogenesis. Herein, we will discuss current CSC models, methods used to characterize CSCs, candidate markers, characteristic signalling pathways and clinical applications of CSCs. Some examples of CSC-specific treatments that are currently in early clinical phases will also be presented in this review.


Cancer; Cancer stem cells; Cancer therapy; In vitro models

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