Authors: Anamaria Orza, Daniel Casciano, and Alexandru S. Biris
Publication: Drug Metabolism Reviews, Volume 46, Issue 2
Recent developments in cancer biology have identified the existence of a sub-poplulation of cells – cancer stem cells (CSC) that are resistant to most traditional therapies (e.g. chemotherapy and radiotherapy) and have the ability to repair their damaged DNA. These findings have necessitated a break with traditional oncology management and encouraged new perspectives concerning cancer treatment. Understanding the functional biology of CSCs – especially the signaling pathways that are involved in their self-renewal mechanisms – is crucial for discovering new forms of treatment. In this review, we highlight current and future prospects for potential cancer therapies based on the use of nano-sized materials. Nanomaterials could revolutionize cancer management because of their distinctive features – unique surface chemistry, strong electronic, optic, and magnetic properties – that are found neither in bulk materials nor in single molecules. Based on these distinct properties, we believe that nanomaterials could be excellent candidates for use in CSC research in order to optimize cancer therapeutics. Moreover, we propose these nanomaterials for the inhibition of the self-renewal pathways of CSCs by focusing on the Hedgehog, Notch, and Wnt/β-catenin self-renewal mechanisms. By introducing these methods for the detection, targeting, and destruction of CSCs, an efficient alternative treatment for the incurable disease of cancer could be provided.