Stem cells have a long lifespan in our body and are subject to genotoxic stress and DNA damage accumulation, which may lead to profound consequences on health. Damaged stem cells may be eliminated by apoptosis or can become senescent cells that can either contribute to arresting cancer growth or foster it, depending on several biological conditions.
Stem cells could experience a neoplastic transformation following a DNA damage occurrence. Emerging evidence shows the existence of a subpopulation of stem-like cells in tumors, which with the characteristics of both embryonic stem cells and cancer cells, are associated with a more aggressive cancer phenotype. These cells are named cancer stem cells (CSCs). CSCs share similar properties with normal stem cells, specifically the ability to give rise to all cell types found in a particular tumor and to self-renew. Current anti-cancer therapies aim to target CSCs to promote tumor regression.
Knowing the mechanisms governing stem cell functions in normal and pathological conditions is of paramount importance for human health.
This special issue aims to highlight the current knowledge on basic and applied research on cancer stem cells. Both original research articles and reviews are well welcome.