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Meeting the Challenge of Targeting Cancer Stem Cells

  • Autori: Turdo, Alice; Veschi, Veronica; Gaggianesi, Miriam; Chinnici, Aurora; Bianca, Paola; Todaro, Matilde; Stassi, Giorgio
  • Anno di pubblicazione: 2019
  • Tipologia: Articolo in rivista (Articolo in rivista)
  • OA Link:


Notwithstanding cancer patients benefit from a plethora of therapeutic alternatives, drug resistance remains a critical hurdle. Indeed, the high mortality rate is associated with metastatic disease, which is mostly incurable due to the refractoriness of metastatic cells to current treatments. Increasing data demonstrate that tumors contain a small subpopulation of cancer stem cells (CSCs) able to establish primary tumor and metastasis. CSCs are endowed with multiple treatment resistance capabilities comprising a highly efficient DNA damage repair machinery, the activation of survival pathways, enhanced cellular plasticity, immune evasion and the adaptation to a hostile microenvironment. Due to the presence of distinct cell populations within a tumor, cancer research has to face the major challenge of targeting the intra-tumoral as well as inter-tumoral heterogeneity. Thus, targeting molecular drivers operating in CSCs, in combination with standard treatments, may improve cancer patients' outcomes, yielding long-lasting responses. Here, we report a comprehensive overview on the most significant therapeutic advances that have changed the known paradigms of cancer treatment with a particular emphasis on newly developed compounds that selectively affect the CSC population. Specifically, we are focusing on innovative therapeutic approaches including differentiation therapy, anti-angiogenic compounds, immunotherapy and inhibition of epigenetic enzymes and microenvironmental cues.