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Cancers (Basel). 2018 Apr 19;10(4). pii: E124. doi: 10.3390/cancers10040124.

Oncolytic Virotherapy versus Cancer Stem Cells: A Review of Approaches and Mechanisms.

Author information

1
Department of Surgery, Division of Surgical Oncology, City of Hope National Medical Center, Duarte, CA 91010, USA. schaurasiya@coh.org.
2
Department of Surgery, Division of Surgical Oncology, City of Hope National Medical Center, Duarte, CA 91010, USA. nchen@coh.org.
3
Center for Gene Therapy, Department of Hematologic and Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation, Beckman Research Institute, City of Hope National Medical Center, Duarte, CA 91010, USA. nchen@coh.org.
4
Gene Editing and Viral Vector Core, Beckman Research Institute, City of Hope National Medical Center, Duarte, CA 91010, USA. nchen@coh.org.
5
Department of Surgery, Division of Surgical Oncology, City of Hope National Medical Center, Duarte, CA 91010, USA. suwarner@coh.org.

Abstract

A growing body of evidence suggests that a subset of cells within tumors are resistant to conventional treatment modalities and may be responsible for disease recurrence. These cells are called cancer stem cells (CSC), which share properties with normal stem cells including self-renewal, pluripotency, drug resistance, and the ability to maintain quiescence. While most conventional therapies can efficiently destroy rapidly dividing cancer cells comprising the bulk of a tumor, they often fail to kill the less abundant and quiescent CSCs. Furthermore, killing of only differentiated cells in the tumor may actually allow for enrichment of CSCs and thereby portend a bad prognosis. Therefore, targeting of CSCs is important to achieve long-term success in cancer therapy. Oncolytic viruses represent a completely different class of therapeutics that can kill cancer cells in a variety of ways, which differ from those of conventional therapies. Hence, CSCs that are inherently resistant to conventional therapies may be susceptible to oncolytic virus-mediated killing. Recent studies have shown that oncolytic viruses can efficiently kill CSCs in many types of cancer. Here, we discuss the mechanism through which CSCs can escape conventional therapies and how they may still be susceptible to different classes of oncolytic viruses. Furthermore, we provide a summary of recent studies that have tested oncolytic viruses on CSCs of different origins and discuss possible future directions for this fascinating subset of oncolytic virus research.

KEYWORDS:

cancer stem cells; oncolytic virus; viral therapy

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