What Are Cancer Stem Cells

Research & development


Why does cancer come back after a tumor has been seemingly eradicated? Like the queen bee in a hive, a cancer stem cell is capable of recreating itself and multiplying, and controls the growth of the tumor. Today’s conventional cancer therapies are not designed to attack cancer stem cells.  In order to develop a reliable treatment, scientists must focus on targeting these queen cancer cells (cancer stem cells) to prevent tumors from growing, spreading and relapsing.

The functional and morphological heterogeneity usually found in natural tumors has been traditionally explained by stochastic or random events that alter the behavior of individual cells in the tumor, assuming all cells have equal potential to be tumorigenic. The cancer stem cell model holds that tumors are organized in a cellular hierarchy where the cancer stem cell sits at the apex, defined by its capacity to self-renew, the potential to differentiate into all cells of the tumor and the ability to proliferate and drive the expansion of the tumor.

In the past ten years there is a new report in medical literature almost every month describing the identification of tumor initiating cells in a new type of tumor. However, for most tumors, the phenotypic definition of cancer stem cells is rather loose with no single marker that unequivocally identifies such a population. The biology of cancer stem cells has proven complex and difficult to translate into effective therapeutic strategies.  At StemTek Therepeutics we believe that targeting the mechanisms responsible for the stem cell function will render a new generation of medicines capable of putting an end to relapse.

Further reading

Here you will find selected publications that have contributed to the understanding of cancer stem cells. Please keep in mind that there is a broad body of literature available that is constantly evolving.  We have included a link to the PubMed listing for each publication.

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StemTek R&D is supported by collaborations and alliances with leading Industry and Academia

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Putting an end to relapse

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