Tumour stem cells and drug resistance

Nat Rev Cancer. 2005 Apr;5(4):275-84. doi: 10.1038/nrc1590.


The contribution of tumorigenic stem cells to haematopoietic cancers has been established for some time, and cells possessing stem-cell properties have been described in several solid tumours. Although chemotherapy kills most cells in a tumour, it is believed to leave tumour stem cells behind, which might be an important mechanism of resistance. For example, the ATP-binding cassette (ABC) drug transporters have been shown to protect cancer stem cells from chemotherapeutic agents. Gaining a better insight into the mechanisms of stem-cell resistance to chemotherapy might therefore lead to new therapeutic targets and better anticancer strategies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters / physiology
  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Cell Lineage
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm*
  • Hedgehog Proteins
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Models, Animal
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / physiology*
  • Pluripotent Stem Cells / physiology
  • Signal Transduction
  • Trans-Activators / physiology


  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Hedgehog Proteins
  • Trans-Activators