Visualization and targeting of LGR5+ human colon cancer stem cells

Journal: Nature

Published: 2017-03-29

DOI: 10.1038/nature22081

Affiliations: 2

Authors: 10

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Research Highlight

Why cancer stem cells are so hard to beat

© Raycat/E+/Getty

© Raycat/E+/Getty

A new study in Nature suggests why killing cancer stem cells (CSCs) in colorectal tumours is so difficult.

A team led by Keio University researchers created three-dimensional cancerous mini-gut structures known as organoids to track the fate of intestinal CSCs. They wiped out all the stem cells, and at first the tumours got smaller. But then the researchers observed fully differentiated tumour cells reverting to being self-renewing CSCs, and the cancers bounced back again.

In the face of such developmental pliancy, targeting CSCs — a necessary step to permanently eradicate tumours and prevent disease relapse — might not be enough in itself to cure patients of colorectal cancer. The authors propose that additional therapies are needed to alter the tumour microenvironment so it’s less amenable to CSC reinstatement.

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  1. Nature 545, 187–192 (2017). doi: 10.1038/nature22081
Institutions Share
Keio University, Japan 0.90
Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., Japan 0.10