Pancreatic cancer stem cells: emerging target for designing novel therapy

Yiwei Li, Dejuan Kong, Aamir Ahmad, Bin Bao, Fazlul H Sarkar
Cancer Letters 2013 September 10, 338 (1): 94-100
In the past few years, there have been significant advances in the research on cancer stem cells (CSCs). The emerging evidences have demonstrated that CSCs and epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT)-type cells, which share molecular characteristics with CSCs, play critical roles in drug resistance, invasion, and metastasis. Pancreatic cancer (PC) has a high mortality due to both intrinsic (de novo) and extrinsic (acquired) drug resistance, leading to increased invasive and metastatic potential of PC cells. Therefore, targeting pancreatic CSCs and EMT-type cells could be a novel therapeutic strategy for the treatment of PC. In this article, we will review the current state of our knowledge on the role of pancreatic CSCs and EMT-type cells, and summarize the novel therapeutic strategies that could target pancreatic CSCs and EMT-type cells, leading to the reversal of EMT phenotype, the induction of drug sensitivity, and the inhibition of invasion and metastasis of PC, which is expected to yield better treatment outcome.

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