Breast cancer stem cells: A new target for therapy

Giulia Federici, Virginia Espina, Lance Liotta, Kirsten H. Edmiston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Normal adult tissue stem cells awake from a dormant state to grow, differentiate, and regenerate damaged tissue. They also travel in the circulation and colonize distant organs at sites undergoing tissue repair. These same traits are utilized or co-opted by metastatic cancer cells. The cancer stem cell theory proposes that tumors emerge from a subpopulation of cancer cells that possess stem cell properties. This theory has profound implications for therapy. A small number of cancer stem cells may lie dormant following conventional therapy and tumor remission, only to re-emerge and regenerate the entire recurrent cancer. Consequently, it has been proposed that targeting cancer stem cells is the only way to obtain durable cancer treatment responses. Several strategies for targeting cancer stem cells have been proposed. Nevertheless, a number of issues must be investigated and resolved before effective treatments targeting cancer stem cells can enter clinical testing.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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