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BioMed Research International
Volume 2014, Article ID 859871, 7 pages
Review Article

Tumor Initiating Cells and Chemoresistance: Which Is the Best Strategy to Target Colon Cancer Stem Cells?

1Institute of Cellular Biology and Neurobiology, National Research Council, Via del Fosso di Fiorano 64, 00143 Rome, Italy
2Department of Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology, Gemelli Hospital, Largo Agostino Gemelli 8, 00168 Rome, Italy

Received 30 April 2013; Accepted 24 October 2013; Published 15 January 2014

Academic Editor: Dominic Fan

Copyright © 2014 Emanuela Paldino 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.


There is an emerging body of evidence that chemoresistance and minimal residual disease result from selective resistance of a cell subpopulation from the original tumor that is molecularly and phenotypically distinct. These cells are called “cancer stem cells” (CSCs). In this review, we analyze the potential targeting strategies for eradicating CSCs specifically in order to develop more effective therapeutic strategies for metastatic colon cancer. These include induction of terminal epithelial differentiation of CSCs or targeting some genes expressed only in CSCs and involved in self-renewal and chemoresistance. Ideal targets could be cell regulators that simultaneously control the stemness and the resistance of CSCs. Another important aspect of cancer biology, which can also be harnessed to create novel broad-spectrum anticancer agents, is the Warburg effect, also known as aerobic glycolysis. Actually, little is yet known with regard to the metabolism of CSCs population, leaving an exciting unstudied avenue in the dawn of the emerging field of metabolomics.