Published online Mar 9, 2015. doi: 10.5497/wjp.v4.i1.58
Peer-review started: October 1, 2014
First decision: October 28, 2014
Revised: November 26, 2014
Accepted: February 9, 2015
Article in press: February 11, 2015
Published online: March 9, 2015
Core tip: Cancer stem cells are a rare cell population with two embedded fundamental properties: self-renewal and differentiation into the heterogeneous lineages of cancer cells that comprise the tumor. While the identification and role of such cells has been clearly established in vitro and in animal models, uncertainty remains as to the role they play in human tumors and their relevance as therapeutic targets. The article summarizes and discusses the latest findings and challenges on cancer stem cell research, the significance of these cells beyond experimental models and suggests avenues for development of cancer stem cell targeting agents.