Successful Therapy Must Eradicate Cancer Stem Cells

Authors

  • David Dingli M.D.,

    Corresponding author
    1. Program for Evolutionary Dynamics, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
    2. Division of Hematology, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, Minnesota, USA
    • Program for Evolutionary Dynamics, Harvard University, One Brattle Square, Suite 6, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA. Telephone: 617-496-5543; Fax: 617-496-4629
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  • Franziska Michor

    1. Program for Evolutionary Dynamics, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
    2. Society of Fellows, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
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Abstract

Despite significant improvements in cancer therapy, tumor recurrence is frequent and can be due to a variety of mechanisms, including the evolution of resistance and tumor progression. Cancer stem cells have been postulated to maintain tumor growth similar to normal stem cells maintaining tissue homeostasis. Recently, the existence of these malignant stem cells has been proven for hematological as well as some solid tumors. Tumor stem cells are not targeted by standard therapy and might be responsible for treatment failure and tumor recurrence in many patients. We designed a simple mathematical model to demonstrate the importance of eliminating tumor stem cells. We explored different therapeutic scenarios to illustrate the properties required from novel therapeutic agents for successful tumor treatment. We show that successful therapy must eradicate tumor stem cells.

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