Leukemia and Cancer Stem Cells

FEATUREThe Ecology of Tumors Leukemia and Cancer Stem Cells BY IRVING WEISSMAN AND MICHAEL CLARKECancers 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 attr

Irving Weissman and Michael Clarke
Apr 1, 2006
FEATURE
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...