Cancer stem cells and differentiation therapy

Xiong Jin, Xun Jin, Hyunggee Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

63 Citations (Scopus)


Cancer stem cells can generate tumors from only a small number of cells, whereas differentiated cancer cells cannot. The prominent feature of cancer stem cells is its ability to self-renew and differentiate into multiple types of cancer cells. Cancer stem cells have several distinct tumorigenic abilities, including stem cell signal transduction, tumorigenicity, metastasis, and resistance to anticancer drugs, which are regulated by genetic or epigenetic changes. Like normal adult stem cells involved in various developmental processes and tissue homeostasis, cancer stem cells maintain their self-renewal capacity by activating multiple stem cell signaling pathways and inhibiting differentiation signaling pathways during cancer initiation and progression. Recently, many studies have focused on targeting cancer stem cells to eradicate malignancies by regulating stem cell signaling pathways, and products of some of these strategies are in preclinical and clinical trials. In this review, we describe the crucial features of cancer stem cells related to tumor relapse and drug resistance, as well as the new therapeutic strategy to target cancer stem cells named “differentiation therapy”.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalTumor Biology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Oct 1


  • Cancer stem cells
  • differentiation
  • stemness signaling pathway
  • therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research


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