Cancer has long been viewed as a heterogeneous population of cells. Cancerous cells may often originate from the transformation of normal stem cells, similar signaling pathways may regulate self-renewal in stem cells and cancer cells. The concept that cancer might arise from a rare population of cells with stem cell properties was proposed for more than a century. Cancer stem cell hypothesis has began to be accepted recently due to the advances in stem cell biology and the development of new animal models to measure self-renewal that drive tumorigenesis. Cancer stem cells have been identified and purified in a variety of tumors (blood, breast, brain, colon, lung, pancreas) using unique stem cell markers such as CD44, CD133 and aldehyde dehydrogenases. Cancer stem cell gene signatures have been examined. This review will discuss the evolution of cancer stem cell research and summarize the recent patents related to the cancer stem cell markers, the methods to detect and modulate cancer stem cells and cancer stem cell-targeted treatment. With the advances in cancer stem cell research, the new patent applications, particularly the new drugs on cancer stem cells treatments are expected to be increasing.
Keywords: Cancer stem cells, CD44, CD133, ALDH, gene expression, patents, treatment
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