Stem Cells

Stem cells are unspecialized cells that are capable of dividing (through mitosis), differentiating into diverse specialized cell types and are self-renewing, producing more stem cells. Classical stem cells possess two main properties: self-renewal and differentiation potential. The major stem cell types include embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS), neural stem cells, hematopoietic stem cells and mesenchymal stem cells. In particular, cancer stem cells (CSCs) exist within the large majority of tumor cells and have the capacity to undergo self-renewal and promote tumor growth.[1] Hedgehog (Hh), Notch, and Wnt pathways are involved in the regulation of normal stem cells and CSCs, and modulators of these pathways are therefore deployed as therapeutic agents in combatting cancer stem cells.[2] HDAC inhibitors are also used to promoting the induction of pluripotent stem cells by inducing four key factors (Oct4, Klf4, Sox2 and c-Myc).[3] Stem cell therapy is already beginning to offer the potential to dramatically improve the treatment of a wide variety of human diseases (including cancer, Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injuries, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, multiple sclerosis, and muscle damage).[4][5]

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[1]. O’Brien C, et al. Cancer stem cells and self-renewal. Clin Cancer Res. 2010, 16: 3113-3120
[2].Takebe N, et al. Targeting cancer stem cells by inhibiting Wnt, Notch, and Hedgehog pathways. Nat Rev Clin Oncol. 2011, 8(2): 97-106.
[3].Huangfu D, et al. Induction of pluripotent stem cells by defined factors is greatly improved by small-molecule compounds. Nat Biotechnol. 2008, 26(7): 795-797.
[4]. Lindvall O, et al. Stem cells for cell therapy in Parkinson’s disease. Pharmacol Res. 2003, 47(4): 279-287.
[5]. Goldman SA, et al. Cell replacement therapy in neurological disease. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2006, 361(1473): 1463-1475.

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