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J Cancer Res Ther. 2018;14(7):1469-1475. doi: 10.4103/jcrt.JCRT_976_17.

Therapeutic approaches targeting cancer stem cells.

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The Affiliated Infectious Diseases Hospital of Soochow University, Suzhou, China.
Tianjin First Center Hospital, Tianjin, China.
The People's Hospital of SND, Suzhou, China.


Increasing studies have demonstrated that most tumors consisted a subpopulation of cells with stem cell properties, known as cancer stem cells (CSCs). Accumulating evidence indicated that CSCs may be critical driving force for several types of cancer. Hence, it was necessary to develop therapeutic approaches specifically targeting CSCs. In this review, first, the biological properties of CSCs were introduced, including the self-renewal and differentiation, high tumorigenesis and invasiveness, resistance to chemotherapy and radiotherapy, genetic and epigenetic variations. Meanwhile, CSCs-targeted therapeutic strategies were summarized, including targeting cell surface markers, signaling pathways, CSC niches, differentiation therapy, and drug resistance for CSCs. Furthermore, clinical trials on anti-CSCs therapies supported the efficacy of these therapies, as well as their combination with conventional chemotherapy and radiotherapy. CSCs could be significantly eradicated, eventually resulting in inhibited tumor growth, metastasis, and recurrence. Thus, selectively targeting CSCs with various agents may be a novel and promising therapeutic strategy against cancer.


Anti-cancer stem cells therapy; biological properties; cancer stem cells

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