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Betulinic Acid Kills Colon Cancer Stem Cells

[ Vol. 11 , Issue. 5 ]


Lisette Potze, Simone di Franco, Jan H. Kessler, Giorgio Stassi and Jan Paul Medema   Pages 427 - 433 ( 7 )


Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are considered to be the origin of cancer and it is suggested that they are resistant to chemotherapy. Current therapies fail to eradicate CSCs and therefore selecting a resistant cell subset that is able to facilitate tumor recurrences. Betulinic acid (BetA) is a broad acting natural compound, shown to induce cell death via the inhibition of the stearoyl-CoA- desaturase (SCD- 1). This enzyme converts saturated fatty acids into unsaturated fatty acids and is over-expressed in tumor cells. Here we show that BetA induces rapid cell death in all colon CSCs tested and is able to affect the CSCs directly as shown, via the loss of clonogenic capacity. Similar results were observed with inhibition of SCD-1, suggesting that SCD-1 activity is indeed a vulnerable link in colon CSCs and can be considered an ideal target for therapy in colon cancer.


Betulinic acid, cancer stem cells, cancer treatment, colon cancer, stearoyl CoA-desaturase, tumor resistance.


Laboratory for Experimental Oncology and Radiobiology (LEXOR), Center for Experimental and Molecular Medicine, Academic Medical Center, Meibergdreef 9, 1105 AZ, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

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