Therapeutic strategies against cancer stem cells in human colorectal cancer (Review)
- Magdalena Szaryńska
- Agata Olejniczak
- Jarosław Kobiela
- Piotr Spychalski
- Zbigniew Kmieć
Published online on: October 23, 2017
Copyright: © Szaryńska et al.
This is an open access article distributed under the terms of Creative Commons Attribution License.
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Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most frequent malignancy and represents the fourth most common cause of cancer‑associated mortalities in the world. Despite many advances in the treatment of CRC, the 5‑year survival rate of patients with CRC remains unsatisfactory due to tumor recurrence and metastases. Recently, cancer stem cells (CSCs), have been suggested to be responsible for the initiation and relapse of the disease, and have been identified in CRC. Due to their basic biological features, which include self‑renewal and pluripotency, CSCs may be novel therapeutic targets for CRC and other cancer types. Conventional therapeutics only act on proliferating and mature cancer cells, while quiescent CSCs survive and often become resistant to chemotherapy. In this review, markers of CRC‑CSCs are evaluated and the recently introduced experimental therapies that specifically target these cells by inducing CSC proliferation, differentiation and sensitization to apoptotic signals via molecules including Dickkopf‑1, bone morphogenetic protein 4, Kindlin‑1, tankyrases, and p21‑activated kinase 1, are discussed. In addition, novel strategies aimed at inhibiting some crucial processes engaged in cancer progression regulated by the Wnt, transforming growth factor β and Notch signaling pathways (pyrvinium pamoate, silibinin, PRI‑724, P17, and P144 peptides) are also evaluated. Although the metabolic alterations in cancer were first described decades ago, it is only recently that the concept of targeting key regulatory molecules of cell metabolism, such as sirtuin 1 (miR‑34a) and AMPK (metformin), has emerged. In conclusion, the discovery of CSCs has resulted in the definition of novel therapeutic targets and the development of novel experimental therapies for CRC. However, further investigations are required in order to apply these novel drugs in human CRC.