Sciclips's Blog

Is Cancer Stem Cell the “Messiah of Cancer Cure”?

Posted on: October 20, 2009

The existence of cancer stem cells have started as a hypothesis and followed by enormous number of experimental evidences. Still, a large number of scientists in stem cell areas and other research areas are very skeptical about the existence of cancer stem cells.  We can believe the existence of cancer stem cells and its role in cancer from all the reported studies on the isolation/characterization of cancer stem cells in various cancers such as leukemia, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, lung cancer, liver cancer, colon cancer etc from past and ongoing research on cancer stem cell.  The PubMed searches on cancer stem cells showed more than 5000 articles as of October 2009 and this data indicates that the first research article on cancer stem was published on 1976 (see the box to see all the PubMEd search results). It is evident that the concept of cancer stem is known to us for more than 23 years.  If the scientist would have accepted the existence of cancer stem cells a decade ago, possibly we would have been in a better position in finding a cure for cancer or may be closer to achieve this goal? May be the concept of stem cells were not established at that time?

We speculate that the real benefit of stem cells will not come from in vitro differentiation of embryonic (hES) or induced pluripotent (iPS) stem cell into tissues or organs or the injection of stem cells. Better not to be, because these stem cells may be similar to cancer cells (1) and may carry several genetic mutations (2).  We do not know the genetic safety of current in vitro grown cells in stem cell therapy.  Read more: http://www.sciclips.com/sciclips/blogMain.do

1 Response to "Is Cancer Stem Cell the “Messiah of Cancer Cure”?"

I don’t think that searching PubMed and finding the oldest article on cancer stem cells is a reliable gauge on how long the scientific community has known the concept. After all, it takes a lot of primary studies and follow-up replication of results for scientific hypotheses to become accepted. Furthermore, our knowledge of cancer stem cells and stem cells themselves did not undergo a boom until the Human Genome Project was completed, since we didn’t know the many genes and regulatory mechanisms that have only been discovered less than a decade ago.
We are yet beginning to understand how stem cells are related to cancer, and how stem cells in our body avoid becoming cancerous. It has been established that in-vitro cultures of human embryonic stem cells and pleuripotent stem cells have to undergo stringent quality control, and stem cell biologists have only yet begun to unravel the many checkpoints that we need to look at.
One major work is the use of the CD30 biomarker, which is expressed by embryonal carcinoma, the malignant counterpart of human embryonic stem cells, but is not found in non-malignant stem cells. The further investigation of CD30 and other epigenetic differences between malignant stem cells and normal stem cells needs to be achieved in order to manifest strict quality control of in-vitro cultures.

References:
http://arjournals.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev.cellbio.042308.113248?url_ver=Z39.88-2003&rfr_id=ori:rid:crossref.org&rfr_dat=cr_pub%3dncbi.nlm.nih.gov

http://www.nature.com/nbt/journal/v24/n3/abs/nbt1197.html

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