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Cancer Stem-Cell Theory Essay

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The cancer stem cell theory hypothesizes that tumors or cancers arise from mutations or epigenetic changes in normal stem cells. These mutated or genetically altered stem cells possess the properties of the normal stem cells such as the ability to self-renew, differentiate into any type of body cell, and resist apoptosis. Hence, the cancer stem cells (CSC) are named so. It is also suggested that because of the above-mentioned properties of the cancer stem cells, the current anti-cancer therapies are not entirely successful (Gil et al, 2008). Despite surgery and other therapies, even if very few of these cancer stem cells survive, they can continue to act as a source for more tumors, even though the therapies eliminate all visible signs…show more content…
Some strategies that can be used to target the cancer stem cells:
1) Stem cells possess markers that are different from the differentiated cells. One method can be to develop treatments that target only the cancer stem cells and not the healthy differentiated cells.
2) Investigate to find markers that distinguish between cancer stem cells and healthy stem cells.
3) Prevent self-renewal of the stem cells within the tumor mass: Targeting proteins that regulate the cell cycle in the cells of the tumor mass can be a potential strategy to prevent the self-renewal of the cancer stem cells. Bao et al (2006) reported that proteins involved in regulating cell cycle, especially at the checkpoints play an important role in determining the CSC resistance to radiotherapy. This is because radiotherapy leads to DNA damage, which activates the checkpoint proteins and increases their expression. In vivo and in vitro studies have shown that inhibition of checkpoint proteins such as Chk1 and Chk2 decrease the radiotherapy resistance ability of the brain stem cells that were previously radiotherapy resistant (Gil et al, 2008). This strategy coupled with radiotherapy and/or elimination of the tumor mass by surgery can potentially prevent relapse of cancer.

Tumor progression or cancer development in humans takes decades to develop because this process requires multiple insults like mutations and epigenetic changes in the DNA. These changes
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