Introduction: Stem cells and cancer


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Tariq Enver
UCL Cancer Institute, UK

Abstract

Many of the tissues prone to transformation are arranged in cellular hierarchies maintained by stem and progenitor cell compartments. Understanding the nature of these cellular hierarchies is important in the context of cancer in respect of (i) identifying normal target cells that are the targets of transformation, (ii) identifying the extent to which stem and progenitor related molecular pathways underpin the malignant state and (iii) delineating the extent to which cancer clones themselves are hierarchically arranged. Such information should facilitate the cellular and molecular targeting of cancer. These issues will be explored in mammary, ovarian and blood systems and discussed within the conceptual framework of current ideas supporting and challenging the cancer stem cell hypothesis.