The Ecology of Tumors

Leukemia and Cancer Stem Cells

Cancers and normal tissue stem cells have much in common: Both have self-renewal capacity, and both develop into differentiated progeny. But do true cancer stem cells exist? We believe that they do and that this realization will have a major impact on the understanding and treatment of cancers. Putative cancer stem cells can be recognized by three attributes: They constitute a homogenous cell population; they, on their own, can initiate cancer; and they both self-renew and undergo differentiation into nontumorigenic progeny.

Many normal tissues start with stem cells. In a tightly regulated sequence, daughter cells undergo successive quantal steps in differentiation and have limited self-renewal capacity. This is...

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