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August 12, 2014

Cancer Stem Cells: An Elusive Target

Find out more about this amorphous field.

Cancer Stem Cells: An Elusive Target

There is much controversy in the field as to CSCs’ surface phenotype, intracellular pathways, and role in metastatic progression. [Sebastian Kaulitzki - Fotolia.com]

  • The focus of this GEN Market & Tech Analysis report is to frame the challenging space of cancer stem cells (CSC).


    • Even though CSCs may represent the link between the primary tumor and metastatic progression, there is much disagreement in the role these cells play in vivo in tumor progression, and much controversy exists as to the bona fide nature of these cells within a tumor—is this a distinct cell class within a tumor resistant to therapy or do these cells represent a fleeting phenotype?
    • In spite of this controversy, there have been attempts to characterize CSCs based on cellular phenotype and it appears that the phenotype (based on surface marker expression) varies between cancer classes—whether this represents true differences in biology between cancer classes or artifacts of manipulation ex vivo remains to be determined.
    • The fact that clinical trials are progressing forward in several cancer classes suggests that this field is translating forward and moving toward clinical fulfillment of the promise of treating cancer by addressing the "underlying stem cell".
    • In this report, we’ve sought to frame some of the knowledge of this target class in light of the research efforts and clinical trials being performed with a clear understanding that the studies being performed might be on a fleeting state of some cells within a cancer patient rather than a true cellular class.

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