Brain tumor stem cells

Thomas Palm, Jens C Schwamborn
Biological Chemistry 2010, 391 (6): 607-17
Since the end of the 'no-new-neuron' theory, emerging evidence from multiple studies has supported the existence of stem cells in neurogenic areas of the adult brain. Along with this discovery, neural stem cells became candidate cells being at the origin of brain tumors. In fact, it has been demonstrated that molecular mechanisms controlling self-renewal and differentiation are shared between brain tumor stem cells and neural stem cells and that corruption of genes implicated in these pathways can direct tumor growth. In this regard, future anticancer approaches could be inspired by uncovering such redundancies and setting up treatments leading to exhaustion of the cancer stem cell pool. However, deleterious effects on (normal) neural stem cells should be minimized. Such therapeutic models underline the importance to study the cellular mechanisms implicated in fate decisions of neural stem cells and the oncogenic derivation of adult brain cells. In this review, we discuss the putative origins of brain tumor stem cells and their possible implications on future therapies.

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