Liver cancer stem cells: implications for a new therapeutic target

Terence Kin Wah Lee, Antonia Castilho, Stephanie Ma, Irene Oi Lin Ng
Liver International: Official Journal of the International Association for the Study of the Liver 2009, 29 (7): 955-65
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is an aggressive tumour with a poor prognosis. Current therapeutic strategies against this disease target mostly rapidly growing differentiated tumour cells. However, the result is often dismal due to the chemoresistant nature of this tumour type. Recent research efforts on stem cells and cancer biology have shed light on new directions for the eradication of cancer stem cells (CSCs) in HCC. The liver is a distinctive organ with the ability of tissue renewal in response to injury. Based on the hypothesis that cancer development is derived from the hierarchy of the stem cell system, we will briefly discuss the origin of liver stem cells and its relation to HCC development. We will also summarize the current CSC markers in HCC and discuss their relevance to the treatment of this deadly disease.

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