Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are cancer cells that have all the classical properties of normal stem cells. Specifically, they are able to both give rise to more copies of themselves (self renewal) and to give rise to all cell types found in the cancer (differentiation). Of all the cancerous cells in a tumour, CSCs are though to be tumorigenic (tumor-forming), perhaps in contrast to other non-tumorigenic cancer cells.. Because of this, after radio- or chemotherapy, if CSCs are not eliminated they are able to cause relapse and metastasis by giving rise to new tumors. Therefore, development of specific therapies targeted at CSCs holds hope for improvement of survival and quality of life of cancer patients.
Dr. John Dick (University of Toronto) – http://www.uhnres.utoronto.ca/researchers/profile.php?lookup=1468
Cancer stem cells – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cancer_stem_cell
Cancer is the result of uncontrolled cell growth.
Therefore, most cancer drugs are designed to kill rapidly dividing cells.
While these drugs have saved many lives, the return of disease following chemotherapy remains a common problem in the treatment of cancer.
Scientists now know that not all cancer cells are created equal. Rare cells, known as cancer stem cells, do not divide rapidly and therefore are not effectively killed by chemotherapy. These cells have the ability to renew themselves as well as the ability to produce rapidly dividing cells. Therefore, following a series of seemingly successful cancer treatments, rare cancer stem cells can linger and are sufficient to reinitiate the disease.
By studying cancer stem cells, scientists may be able to design therapies that specifically target them in order to reduce recurrence and improve our ability to treat cancer.
Narration by: Dr. John Dick
Written & Directed by: Ben Paylor & Mike Long
Produced by: Infoshots – infoshots.ca
Animation by: David Murawsky – davidmurawsky.com/
Sound by: James Wallace – imdb.com/name/nm0908691/
Funding by: Stem Cell Network and Canadian Stem Cell Foundation