Cancer stem cells in malignant glioma - The mechanism of cancer initiation and the therapeutic development

Ichiro Nakano, Hideyuki Saya

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Malignant glioma is one of the most lethal diseases in adulthood. The median survival of patients with the Grade IV glioma, glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), is shorter than 15 months and the current first-line therapies for this devastating disease have only a palliative effect. The cancer stem cell hypothesis has recently attracted a great deal of attention, owing to the promise of a novel cellular target for the treatment of tumors including GBM. Recent studies have demonstrated that existence of cancer stem cells in brain tumors (BTSC) accounts, at least in part, for the intractability of malignant glioma. From the therapeutic standpoint, characterization of the mechanism for tumor initiation and maintenance of the "stem-like state" of BTSC is crucial. However, multiple heterogeneous subtypes of cancer stem cells have recently been identified from malignant glioma, making the idea of cancer stem cell complicated. In addition, in some cancer types (e.g. melanoma), a considerable proportion of tumor cells may possess the stem cell property, indicating cancer stem cells may not be a rare cell population in tumors, at least in some organs. Based on the extensive genetic and epigenetic characterization of tumor growth mechanisms, various molecularly-targeted therapies have already been applied for patients, demonstrating a varying degree of success in cancer treatment. A significant improvement in patient prognosis was achieved in several cancer types including leukemia and breast cancer. It is no doubt that continuous effort is required to bring hope for patients with malignant glioma. In this study, we summarize the recent findings and approaches in the cancer stem cell field, mainly focusing on malignant glioma stem cells, and also describe potential future directions in this area.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)879-889
Number of pages11
JournalNeurological Surgery
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 10-2010
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


Dive into the research topics of 'Cancer stem cells in malignant glioma - The mechanism of cancer initiation and the therapeutic development'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this