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Brain Tumour Stem Cells: Implications for Cancer Therapy and Regenerative Medicine

[ Vol. 3 , Issue. 3 ]


Manuel Sanchez-Martin   Pages 197 - 207 ( 11 )


The cancer relapse and mortality rate suggest that current therapies do not eradicate all malignant cells. Currently, it is accepted that tumorigenesis and organogenesis are similar in many respects, as for example, homeostasis is governed by a distinct sub-population of stem cells in both situations. There is increasing evidence that many types of cancer contain their own stem cells: cancer stem cells (CSC), which are characterized by their self-renewing capacity and differentiation ability. The investigation of solid tumour stem cells has gained momentum particularly in the area of brain tumours. Gliomas are the most common type of primary brain tumours. Nearly two-thirds of gliomas are highly malignant lesions with fast progression and unfortunate prognosis. Despite recent advances, two-year survival for glioblastoma (GBM) with optimal therapy is less than 30%. Even among patients with low-grade gliomas that confer a relatively good prognosis, treatment is almost never curative. Recent studies have demonstrated the existence of a small fraction of glioma cells endowed with features of primitive neural progenitor cells and a tumour-initiating function. In general, this fraction is characterized for forming neurospheres, being endowed with drug resistance properties and often, we can isolate some of them using sorting methods with specific antibodies. The molecular characterization of these stem populations will be critical to developing an effective therapy for these tumours with very dismal prognosis. To achieve this aim, the development of a mouse model which recapitulates the nature of these tumours is essential. This review will focus on glioma stem cell knowledge and discuss future implications in brain cancer therapy and regenerative medicine.


Cancer stem cell, brain tumour, glioblastoma


Department of Medicine, University of Salamanca, Campus Miguel de Unamuno s/n 37007 Salamanca, Spain; or Genetically Engineered Mouse Facility, SEA, University of Salamanca, Spain.

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