How stem cells behave is very much a factor of their local microenvironment, also known as the stem cell niche. Physical, chemical, or electrical signals from the neighboring cells or biochemical signals from distant cells are crucial in the cell fate decision process. A major challenge of tissue engineering is to mimic the natural cell environment by designing very sophisticated scaffolds able not only to mechanically support cells, but also to release signals biologically relevant for governing stem cell fate. In addition, increasing evidence suggests that abnormal interaction of stem cells with their niche is responsible for altered cell function leading to malignant transformation.
This book discusses some of the recent advances in stem cell research that may help understanding the properties of the niche that govern stem cell fate. Technical topics discussed include:
Stem cell biology
Cancer stem cells
Stem cell interactions with biomaterials
Engineering the stem cell microenvironment
Stem cells in tissue regeneration and repair
The Disputationes Workshop series is an international initiative aimed at disseminating stem cell related cutting edge knowledge among scientists, healthcare workers, students and policy makers. This book emerges as a result of the scientific contributions presented and discussed during the fifth Disputationes Workshop held in Aalborg (Denmark) in April 2014. The stem cell microenvironment and its role in regenerative medicine and cancer pathogenesis is ideal for academic staff and master/research students in biomedical and health sciences
Through her storytelling, Kristen’s book provides readers with an up-close and very personal view of what it’s like to go through the many forms of treatment that cancer makes necessary. Her personal journey included a stem-cell transplant that paved the way to remission from stage-three non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) in 2013. The cancer took Kristen on a wild ride—that included some extreme highs and deep lows. Her poignant memoir is a love story of sorts…a story about the search for meaningful work…about the struggle to relinquish control…about finding herself…a series of tales that she has woven together with the desire to empower others to take positive action as they begin journeys of their own.
An innovative theory proposes a new therapeutic strategy to break the stalemate in the war on cancer. It is called cancer stem cell (CSC) theory, and Lucie Laplane offers a comprehensive analysis, based on an original interdisciplinary approach that combines biology, biomedical history, and philosophy.
Rather than treat cancer by aggressively trying to eliminate all cancerous cells―with harmful side effects for patients―CSC theory suggests the possibility of targeting the CSCs, a small fraction of cells that lie at the root of cancers. CSCs are cancer cells that also have the defining properties of stem cells―the abilities to self-renew and to differentiate. According to this theory, only CSCs and no other cancer cells can induce tumor formation.
To date, researchers have not agreed on the defining feature of CSCs―their stemness. Drawing from a philosophical perspective, Laplane shows that there are four possible ways to understand this property: stemness can be categorical (an intrinsic property of stem cells), dispositional (an intrinsic property whose expression depends on external stimuli), relational (an extrinsic property determined by a cell’s relationship with the microenvironment), or systemic (an extrinsic property controlled at the system level). Our ability to cure cancers may well depend upon determining how these definitions apply to different types of cancers.