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Cancer stem cells and oncology therapeutics

Al-Hajj, Muhammad

doi: 10.1097/CCO.0b013e328011a8d6
Cancer biology

Purpose of review An overview of the latest developments in the cancer stem cells field and their potential use in the oncology drug discovery process.

Recent findings Recent studies provided evidence of the existence of a subpopulation of cells within a variety of tumor types with a tumorigenic potential that is lacking in the rest of the cells within these tumors. There is mounting evidence that such cells exist in almost all tumor types. Work on the characterization of these cells suggests that deregulation of pathways responsible for stem cell self-renewal is a likely requirement for carcinogenesis and targeting such pathways might be curative. Progress has been made to develop more relevant in-vitro and in-vivo models that incorporate these findings.

Summary Cancer stem cells have been identified in a variety of tumors. Characterization of these cells, determining how they originate and developing relevant assays is a work in progress. Incorporating these findings in the cancer drug discovery process might lead to better therapeutics.

Novartis Institute of Functional Genomics, San Diego, California, USA

Correspondence to Muhammad Al-Hajj, Novartis Institute of Functional Genomics, 10675 John Jay Hopkins Drive Suite G213, San Diego, CA 92121, USA Tel: +1 858 812 1554; fax: +1 858 812 1920; e-mail:

© 2007 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.