Many prominent researchers have established the foundation for the theory of a stem-cell origin of cancer, and they’ve performed vital experiments to support its validity. This book illustrates how this theory may transform our current understanding of cancer.
The concept of cancer stem cells has great clinical implications. This is due to the fact that small subpopulations of these cells have been identified in a variety of neoplastic conditions ranging from solid tumors to liquid malignancies. Although there are some huge gaps in our current understanding of the role played by cancer stem cells in cancer biology, a growing body of evidence provides strong support for the principal functions of these cells in tumorigenesis. This has represented the potential of cancer stem cells in the development of novel and innovative tools for the treatment of metastatic tumors. This book aims to offer a broad framework for obtaining insight into the state-of-the-art knowledge on cancer stem cell biology and highlight the therapeutic implications of these cells in the future of clinical oncology.
The recent advances in Programming Somatic Cell (PSC) including induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPS) and Induced Neuronal phenotypes (iN), has changed our experimental landscape and opened new possibilities. The advances in PSC have provided an important tool for the study of human neuronal function as well as neurodegenerative and neurodevelopmental diseases in live human neurons in a controlled environment. For example, reprogramming cells from patients with neurological diseases allows the study of molecular pathways particular to specific subtypes of neurons such as dopaminergic neurons in Parkinson’s Disease, Motor neurons for Amyolateral Sclerosis or myelin for Multiple Sclerosis. Detecting disease-specific molecular signatures in live human brain cells, opens possibilities for early intervention therapies and new diagnostic tools. Importantly, once the neurological neural phenotype is detected in vitro, the so-called “disease-in-a-dish” approach allows for the screening of drugs that can ameliorate the disease-specific phenotype. New therapeutic drugs could either act on generalized pathways in all patients or be patient-specific and used in a personalized medicine approach. However, there are a number of pressing issues that need to be addressed and resolved before PSC technology can be extensively used for clinically relevant modeling of neurological diseases. Among these issues are the variability in PSC generation methods, variability between individuals, epigenetic/genetic instability and the ability to obtain disease-relevant subtypes of neurons . Current protocols for differentiating PSC into specific subtypes of neurons are under development, but more and better protocols are needed. Understanding the molecular pathways involved in human neural differentiation will facilitate the development of methods and tools to enrich and monitor the generation of specific subtypes of neurons that would be more relevant in modeling different neurological diseases.