Also known as tumor-initiating cells, cancer stem cells (CSC) have unique capability endemic to stem cells of self-renewal and differentiation, thereby causing tumor relapse and/or metastatis. While traditional cancer treatments focus on tumor shrinkage, it’s a distinct possibility that these agents do not effectively destroy all of the CSCs, causing the tumor to reappear.
The CSC theory is relatively new, so the treatment pipeline is still in its early stages.
Nathan Sadeghi-Nejad, a contributor to Forbes and TheStreet, moderated a panel of scientific experts at the forefront of developing treatments targeting CSCs during the 2012 BIO Investor Forum. In an article for Forbes, he provides his thoughts on how CSCs will affect oncology drug development:
“Bulls believe CSC-based therapies will revolutionize oncology drug development and dramatically improve patient outcomes. Bears argue the data are inconclusive or that expectations are unreasonably high. I think the truth lies somewhere in the middle…”