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BioMed Research International
Volume 2014, Article ID 126586, 11 pages
Review Article

New Molecules and Old Drugs as Emerging Approaches to Selectively Target Human Glioblastoma Cancer Stem Cells

Section of Pharmacology, Department of Internal Medicine and Centre of Excellence for Biomedical Research (CEBR), University of Genova, Viale Benedetto XV, 2 16132 Genova, Italy

Received 14 June 2013; Accepted 4 December 2013; Published 2 January 2014

Academic Editor: Kaisorn L. Chaichana

Copyright © 2014 Roberto Würth et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Despite relevant progress obtained by multimodal treatment, glioblastoma (GBM), the most aggressive primary brain tumor, is still incurable. The most encouraging advancement of GBM drug research derives from the identification of cancer stem cells (CSCs), since these cells appear to represent the determinants of resistance to current standard therapies. The goal of most ongoing studies is to identify drugs able to affect CSCs biology, either inducing selective toxicity or differentiating this tumor cell population into nontumorigenic cells. Moreover, the therapeutic approach for GBM could be improved interfering with chemo- or radioresistance mechanisms, microenvironment signals, and the neoangiogenic process. During the last years, molecular targeted compounds such as sorafenib and old drugs, like metformin, displayed interesting efficacy in preclinical studies towards several tumors, including GBM, preferentially affecting CSC viability. In this review, the latest experimental results, controversies, and prospective application concerning these promising anticancer drugs will be discussed.