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Targeting stem cells in the realm of drug-resistant breast cancer

Authors Dey P, Rathod M, De A

Received 29 September 2018

Accepted for publication 29 January 2019

Published 7 March 2019 Volume 2019:11 Pages 115—135


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Professor Pranela Rameshwar

Pranay Dey,1,2 Maitreyi Rathod,1,2 Abhijit De1,2

1Molecular Functional Imaging Lab, Advanced Centre for Treatment, Research and Education in Cancer, Tata Memorial Centre, Navi Mumbai, India; 2Molecular Functional Imaging Lab, Homi Bhabha National Institute, Mumbai, India

Abstract: Since its first documentation, breast cancer (BC) has been a conundrum that ails millions of women every year. This cancer has been well studied by researchers all over the world, which has improved the patient outcome significantly. There are many diagnostic markers to identify the disease, but early detection and then subclassification of this cancer remain dubious. Even after the correct diagnosis, more than half the patients come back with a more aggressive and metastatic tumor. The underpinning mechanism that governs the resistance includes over-amplification of receptors, mutations in key gene targets, and activation of different signaling. A plethora of drugs have been devised that have shown promising results in clinical settings. However, in recent times, the role played by cancer stem cells in disease progression and their interaction in mediating the resistance to cellular insults have come into the limelight. As breast cancer stem cells (BCSCs) are dormant in nature, it is highly likely that they fail to directly respond to the cytotoxic drugs which are meant for ablating rapidly proliferating cells. Furthermore, the absence of well-characterized, drug-able surface markers to date, has limited the application of targeted therapies in complete eradication of the disease. In this review, our intent is to discuss versatile therapeutics in practice followed by discussing the upcoming therapy strategies in the pipeline for BC. Furthermore, we focus on the roles played by BCSCs in mediating the resistance, and therefore, the aspects of new therapeutics against BCSCs under development that may ease the burden in future has also been discussed.

Keywords: chemoresistance, cancer stem cell, BCSC, tumor microenvironment, breast cancer, conventional therapies, TRAIL therapy

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