Background: The initiation and progression of malignant tumors is driven by distinct subsets of tumor-initiating or cancer stem-like cells (CSCs) which develop therapy/apoptosis resistance and self-renewal capacity. In order to be able to eradicate these CSCs with novel classes of anti-cancer therapeutics, a better understanding of their biology and clinically-relevant traits is mandatory. Main body: Several requirements and functions of a CSC niche physiology are combined with current concepts for CSC generation such as development in a hierarchical tumor model, by stochastic processes, or via a retrodifferentiation program. Moreover, progressive adaptation of endothelial cells and recruited immune and stromal cells to the tumor site substantially contribute to generate a tumor growth-permissive environment resembling a CSC niche. Particular emphasis is put on the pivotal role of multipotent mesenchymal stroma/stem cells (MSCs) in supporting CSC development by various kinds of interaction and cell fusion to form hybrid tumor cells. Conclusion: A better knowledge of CSC niche physiology may increase the chances that cancer stemness-depleting interventions ultimately result in arrest of tumor growth and metastasis.
Research Areas and Centers
- Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)