Cancer Stem Cells (CSCs), or Tumor Initiating Cells (TICs), have been described in leukemias and several solid tumors, including breast , colon, brain and prostate. Most recently, we have described the isolation of TICs for lung adenocarcinoma. It is most likely that with careful experimental designs, TICs can be identified and isolated from all human cancers. This should and has open up new avenues to explore in our war against cancer. Our recent work with lung cancer TICs has, for example, revealed new and exciting therapeutic pathways and targets. The GIS cancer stem cell program will be built around a series of logical progressive steps:
- To develop methods to identify and isolate CSCs from many different solid cancers (e.g. liver, pancreas, stomach)
- To fully characterize at the cellular and molecular level CSCs from different tumors
- To develop new strategies to eliminate each type of CSCs, including identifying the most promising therapeutic targets
- To rapidly evolve TIC-specific treatment modalities into clinical trials
- To test the power of combining anti-CSCs treatment with other treatment modalities.
Our expectations are that research into the biology of CSCs will have a significant impact in improving the control and elimination of many cancers.