Copyright ©The Author(s) 2018. Published by Baishideng Publishing Group Inc. All rights reserved.
World J Stem Cells. Nov 26, 2018; 10(11): 172-182
Published online Nov 26, 2018. doi: 10.4252/wjsc.v10.i11.172
Pancreatic cancer stem cells: Perspectives on potential therapeutic approaches of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma
Claudia Di Carlo, Jessica Brandi, Daniela Cecconi
Claudia Di Carlo, Jessica Brandi, Daniela Cecconi, Department of Biotechnology, Proteomics and Mass Spectrometry Laboratory, University of Verona, Verona 37134, Italy
Author contributions: Di Carlo C contributed in literature reviewing and manuscript writing; Cecconi D and Brandi J contributed in designation, correction, and editing of the manuscript; all authors contributed to the revision of the manuscript and approved the final version.
Conflict-of-interest statement: No potential conflicts of interest. No financial support.
Open-Access: This article is an open-access article which was selected by an in-house editor and fully peer-reviewed by external reviewers. It is distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See:
Correspondence to: Jessica Brandi, PhD, Doctor, Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Biotechnology, Proteomics and Mass Spectrometry Laboratory, University of Verona, Strada Le Grazie 15, Verona 37134, Italy.
Telephone: +39-45-8027954 Fax: +39-45-8027929
Received: July 19, 2018
Peer-review started: July 19, 2018
First decision: August 24, 2018
Revised: September 10, 2018
Accepted: October 17, 2018
Article in press: October 17, 2018
Published online: November 26, 2018

Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma is one of the most aggressive solid tumours of the pancreas, characterised by a five-year survival rate less than 8%. Recent reports that pancreatic cancer stem cells (PCSCs) contribute to the tumorigenesis, progression, and chemoresistance of pancreatic cancer have prompted the investigation of new therapeutic approaches able to directly target PCSCs. In the present paper the non-cancer related drugs that have been proposed to target CSCs that could potentially combat pancreatic cancer are reviewed and evaluated. The role of some pathways and deregulated proteins in PCSCs as new therapeutic targets are also discussed with a focus on selected specific inhibitors. Finally, advances in the development of nanoparticles for targeting PCSCs and site-specific drug delivery are highlighted, and their limitations considered.

Keywords: Pancreatic cancer stem cells, Pancreatic cancer, Therapeutic approaches, Pancreas, Treatment

Core tip: Pancreatic cancer is characterised by remarkable resistance to treatment conferred by pancreatic cancer stem cells (PCSCs). Unfortunately, most conventional treatments are unable to eradicate tumours. Recent research has focused on characterising PCSCs to accelerate the development of novel therapeutic strategies. In the present paper, we shed light on promising new strategies such as using non-cancer drugs as anti-cancer therapeutics, targeting of deregulated pathways and proteins of PCSCs, and using nanoparticles for improved drug delivery.