Cancer Stem Cells


Nuclear structure in A: normal cell and B: cancer cell
Tumour sample from different patients and even cells within the same tumour shows significant discrepancy in morphology, proliferative potential, ability for metastasis and invasion as a reflection of variation in genetic and epigenetic aberrations (Curr Biol No.20. 2010 doi:10.1016/j.cub.2010.07.007). The ability to form a tumour has been found to be limited within very small proportion of cancer cells. Experiment with neuroblastoma, ovarian and lung cancer had shown that only 1 out of 1–5,000 cancer cells could form colony in soft agar (Oncogenes. No.23, 2004). Malignant cervical epithelial cells express proteins such as nanog, nucleostemin, and musashi1 which are also highly expressed in embryonic stem cells (BMC Cancer Vol.8 2008). Widespread potential for proliferation is characteristic of both normal stem cells and tumourigenic cells which make them capable of forming normal and abnormal organs, respectively (Nature. No.414 2001).
From this point of view, we can say cancer is an abnormal organ that exhibits false impression of normal tissue development, where growth is driven by the stem cell apex (Annu Rev Biochem. No.74, 2005). Stem cells escape the therapeutic effects of chemo or radiotherapy and may form tumours anew (Semin Cancer Biol. No.17, Issue 3 2007; Neoplasia. No.12, Issue 7 2010)
Cancer might act as unprecedented and abnormal ‘whole’ (like organs) in the complex hierarchy of ‘wholeness’ that works in our body system (cell>organ>organism). This very complex cancer phenomenon, involving so many genes and molecules in the progression of a single tumour, seems to be stochastic by nature, and requires thinking in a way that the alterations are not local, rather the manifestation of the alterations seems to be local and it might be the fact. So, cancer initiation should be viewed from a new holistic paradigm underlying the process of origin and function of life (Oncol Rev. No. 5. 2011 DOI 10.1007/s12156-011-0091-2).

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