Thursday, June 25, 2009

A review of the CSC paradigm

Controversial Cancer Stem Cells Offer New Direction For Treatment, ScienceDaily, June 25, 2009. [FriendFeed entry]. First paragraph:
In a review in Science, a University of Rochester Medical Center researcher sorts out the controversy and promise around a dangerous subtype of cancer cells, known as cancer stem cells, which seem capable of resisting many modern treatments.
Based on this review: The Increasing Complexity of the Cancer Stem Cell Paradigm by Jeffrey M Rosen and Craig T Jordan, Science 2009(Jun 26); 324(5935): 1670-3. First paragraph:
The investigation and study of cancer stem cells (CSCs) have received enormous attention over the past 5 to 10 years but remain topics of considerable controversy. Opinions about the validity of the CSC hypothesis, the biological properties of CSCs, and the relevance of CSCs to cancer therapy differ widely. In the following commentary, we discuss the nature of the debate, the parameters by which CSCs can or cannot be defined, and the identification of new potential therapeutic targets elucidated by considering cancer as a problem in stem cell biology.


  1. The fact that cancer stem cells (CSCs) may have unique biological properties more likely to fuel cancer, or unfavorable factors in the neighboring cells surrounding the tumor, such as mutated genes, proteins that encourage cell growth, it is important to look at the "forest" and not just the "trees." There are many pathways to altered cellular (forest) function (hence all the different "trees" which correlate in different situations). Cell functional analysis measures what happens at the end (the effects on the forest), rather than the status of the individual trees.

  2. See also: Rumsfeldian Stem Cells by Nicholas Wade, TierneyLab Blog, The New York Times, July 2, 2009. Excerpt: "The most interesting topic in Science’s special issue is that of cancer stem cells, the idea that cancers are caused by a few errant stem cells that generate the mass of a tumor, and that chemotherapy may be ineffective because it kills most tumor cells but fails to target the cancer stem cells."