Purpose of review: An overview of the latest developments in the cancer stem cells field and their potential use in the oncology drug discovery process.
Recent findings: Recent studies provided evidence of the existence of a subpopulation of cells within a variety of tumor types with a tumorigenic potential that is lacking in the rest of the cells within these tumors. There is mounting evidence that such cells exist in almost all tumor types. Work on the characterization of these cells suggests that deregulation of pathways responsible for stem cell self-renewal is a likely requirement for carcinogenesis and targeting such pathways might be curative. Progress has been made to develop more relevant in-vitro and in-vivo models that incorporate these findings.
Summary: Cancer stem cells have been identified in a variety of tumors. Characterization of these cells, determining how they originate and developing relevant assays is a work in progress. Incorporating these findings in the cancer drug discovery process might lead to better therapeutics.