In vitro models of cancer stem cells and clinical applications

Sara S. Franco, Karolina Szczesna, Maria S. Iliou, Mohammed Al-Qahtani, Ali Mobasheri, Julianna Kobolák, András Dinnyés

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

17 Citations (Scopus)


Cancer cells, stem cells and cancer stem cells have for a long time played a significant role in the biomedical sciences. Though cancer therapy is more effective than it was a few years ago, the truth is that still none of the current non-surgical treatments can cure cancer effectively. The reason could be due to the subpopulation called "cancer stem cells" (CSCs), being defined as those cells within a tumour that have properties of stem cells: self-renewal and the ability for differentiation into multiple cell types that occur in tumours. The phenomenon of CSCs is based on their resistance to many of the current cancer therapies, which results in tumour relapse. Although further investigation regarding CSCs is still needed, there is already evidence that these cells may play an important role in the prognosis of cancer, progression and therapeutic strategy. Therefore, long-term patient survival may depend on the elimination of CSCs. Consequently, isolation of pure CSC populations or reprogramming of cancer cells into CSCs, from cancer cell lines or primary tumours, would be a useful tool to gain an in-depth knowledge about heterogeneity and plasticity of CSC phenotypes and therefore carcinogenesis. Herein, we will discuss current CSC models, methods used to characterize CSCs, candidate markers, characteristic signalling pathways and clinical applications of CSCs. Some examples of CSC-specific treatments that are currently in early clinical phases will also be presented in this review.

Original languageEnglish
Article number738
JournalBMC cancer
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2016



  • Cancer
  • Cancer stem cells
  • Cancer therapy
  • In vitro models

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

Cite this

Franco, S. S., Szczesna, K., Iliou, M. S., Al-Qahtani, M., Mobasheri, A., Kobolák, J., & Dinnyés, A. (2016). In vitro models of cancer stem cells and clinical applications. BMC cancer, 16, [738].