Stem cells in cancer: do they matter?
By John E. Dick
TIME: 8:00 PM Thursday, October 26th, 2017
Oscar Peterson Concert Hall Concordia University 7141 Sherbrooke Street West, Montreal
Historical studies of cancer frequently view the tumor as being composed of cells that are all equally bad. More recent studies reveals that individual cells of a tumour vary in many hallmarks of cancer and this heterogeneity can contribute to therapy failure and disease recurrence. A single tumor can be composed of genetically distinct subclones, each with distinct functional properties. Some subclones can be sensitive to therapy where as others are resistant to therapy because they contain genetic mutations. Furthermore, non-genetic determinants are are able to drive heterogeneity. Dr Dick’s research has found that many tumors are functional hierarchies similar to normal tissues such as blood and skin where rare stem cells support continuous tissue regeneration. In cancer, subpopulations of self-renewing cancer stem cells sustain long-term clonal maintenance of cancer cells. Although these cancer stem cells can be rare yet they possess properties such as dormancy that provides them with therapy resistance. The research emphasizes the fact that therapy can eradicate the bulk of tumor cells.
Let it be known that the discovery of cancer stem cells has transformed our views of the origin and nature of cancer. Dr Dick will explain auspiciously how it has laid the foundation for new approaches to cancer therapy.