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      Cancer drug pan-resistance: pumps, cancer stem cells, quiescence, epithelial to mesenchymal transition, blocked cell death pathways, persisters or what?

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          Abstract

          Although chemotherapy of tumours has scored successes, drug resistance remains the major cause of death of cancer patients. Initial treatment often leaves residual disease, from which the tumour regrows. Eventually, most tumours become resistant to all available chemotherapy. I call this pan-resistance to distinguish it from multi-drug resistance, usually describing resistance caused by upregulation of drug transporters, such as P-glycoprotein. In this review, I discuss mechanisms proposed to explain both residual disease and pan-resistance. Although plausible explanations are at hand for residual disease, pan-resistance is still a mystery. My conclusion is that it is time for a major effort to solve this mystery using the new genetically modified mouse tumour models that produce real tumours resembling cancer in human patients.

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          Most cited references 66

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          Identification of selective inhibitors of cancer stem cells by high-throughput screening.

          Screens for agents that specifically kill epithelial cancer stem cells (CSCs) have not been possible due to the rarity of these cells within tumor cell populations and their relative instability in culture. We describe here an approach to screening for agents with epithelial CSC-specific toxicity. We implemented this method in a chemical screen and discovered compounds showing selective toxicity for breast CSCs. One compound, salinomycin, reduces the proportion of CSCs by >100-fold relative to paclitaxel, a commonly used breast cancer chemotherapeutic drug. Treatment of mice with salinomycin inhibits mammary tumor growth in vivo and induces increased epithelial differentiation of tumor cells. In addition, global gene expression analyses show that salinomycin treatment results in the loss of expression of breast CSC genes previously identified by analyses of breast tissues isolated directly from patients. This study demonstrates the ability to identify agents with specific toxicity for epithelial CSCs.
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            Models, mechanisms and clinical evidence for cancer dormancy.

            Patients with cancer can develop recurrent metastatic disease with latency periods that range from years even to decades. This pause can be explained by cancer dormancy, a stage in cancer progression in which residual disease is present but remains asymptomatic. Cancer dormancy is poorly understood, resulting in major shortcomings in our understanding of the full complexity of the disease. Here, I review experimental and clinical evidence that supports the existence of various mechanisms of cancer dormancy including angiogenic dormancy, cellular dormancy (G0-G1 arrest) and immunosurveillance. The advances in this field provide an emerging picture of how cancer dormancy can ensue and how it could be therapeutically targeted.
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              IFNalpha activates dormant haematopoietic stem cells in vivo.

              Maintenance of the blood system is dependent on dormant haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) with long-term self-renewal capacity. After injury these cells are induced to proliferate to quickly re-establish homeostasis. The signalling molecules promoting the exit of HSCs out of the dormant stage remain largely unknown. Here we show that in response to treatment of mice with interferon-alpha (IFNalpha), HSCs efficiently exit G(0) and enter an active cell cycle. HSCs respond to IFNalpha treatment by the increased phosphorylation of STAT1 and PKB/Akt (also known as AKT1), the expression of IFNalpha target genes, and the upregulation of stem cell antigen-1 (Sca-1, also known as LY6A). HSCs lacking the IFNalpha/beta receptor (IFNAR), STAT1 (ref. 3) or Sca-1 (ref. 4) are insensitive to IFNalpha stimulation, demonstrating that STAT1 and Sca-1 mediate IFNalpha-induced HSC proliferation. Although dormant HSCs are resistant to the anti-proliferative chemotherapeutic agent 5-fluoro-uracil, HSCs pre-treated (primed) with IFNalpha and thus induced to proliferate are efficiently eliminated by 5-fluoro-uracil exposure in vivo. Conversely, HSCs chronically activated by IFNalpha are functionally compromised and are rapidly out-competed by non-activatable Ifnar(-/-) cells in competitive repopulation assays. Whereas chronic activation of the IFNalpha pathway in HSCs impairs their function, acute IFNalpha treatment promotes the proliferation of dormant HSCs in vivo. These data may help to clarify the so far unexplained clinical effects of IFNalpha on leukaemic cells, and raise the possibility for new applications of type I interferons to target cancer stem cells.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Open Biol
                Open Biol
                RSOB
                royopenbio
                Open Biology
                The Royal Society
                2046-2441
                May 2012
                May 2012
                : 2
                : 5
                Affiliations
                Molecular Oncology, NKI-AVL , Plesmanlaan 121, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
                Author notes
                Article
                rsob120066
                10.1098/rsob.120066
                3376736
                22724067

                © 2012 The Authors. Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.

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                May 2012

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