Frontiers in Bioscience-Scholar (FBS) is published by IMR Press from Volume 13 Issue 1 (2021). Previous articles were published by another publisher on a subscription basis, and they are hosted by IMR Press on imrpress.com as a courtesy and upon agreement with Frontiers in Bioscience.
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Academic Editor: Guido Lenz
It has been recently shown that within heterogeneous tumor masses a small population of less differentiated transformed cells has the ability to self-renew and regenerate the bulk of the tumor. Their similarities with normal stem cells in terms of gene expression patterns, proliferative capacity and surface markers rendered them the name of cancer stem-like cells (CSC), and these are thought to be the tumor initiating cells (TIC). Their limited susceptibility to classical anti-tumor therapy help explain the high incidence of cancer-treatment relapses observed in selected malignancies. Much effort is being directed towards the understanding of factors that maintain CSC survival and their self-renewal capacity, with the goal that these same signaling pathways can be harnessed for treatments that aim at inducing CSC differentiation. This review will discuss the CSC theory, its implications, potential signaling pathways responsible for maintaining their undifferentiated and pluripotent states, and new venues being explored to target these cells in modern cancer therapy.