On the nature of cancer stem cells

On the nature of cancer stem cells

For a long time cancer researchers debated whether cancer stem cells existed at all. Now the question seems to be somewhat more subtle, are cancer stem cells just stem cells gone rogue or are they regular tumour cells that, through evolution, acquire more and more of the markers (and properties) of stem cells?

Weinberg’s research (amongst other’s) show that some cancer stem cells derive from more differentiated cells but the work of Jeremy Rich (and our collaborator at Cancer Evo, Anita Hjelmeland) show that the tumour microenvironment can reverse the differentiation of cancer cells. That would imply that even if you find a cancer stem cell derived from a more differentiated cell, there still is a chance that the origin of the tumour is a stem cell.

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