Therapeutic targeting of cancer stem cells in lung, head and neck, and bladder cancers

Sarah E. Mudra, Pritam Sadhukhan, M. Talha Ugurlu, Shorna Alam, Mohammad O. Hoque

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Resistance to cancer therapy remains a significant obstacle in treating patients with various solid malignancies. Exposure to current chemotherapeutics and targeted agents invariably leads to therapy resistance, heralding the need for novel agents. Cancer stem cells (CSCs)—a subpopulation of tumor cells with capacities for self-renewal and multi-lineage differentiation—represent a pool of therapeutically resistant cells. CSCs often share physical and molecular characteristics with the stem cell population of the human body. It remains challenging to selectively target CSCs in therapeutically resistant tumors. The generation of CSCs and induction of therapeutic resistance can be attributed to several deregulated critical growth regulatory signaling pathways such as WNT/βcatenin, Notch, Hippo, and Hedgehog. Beyond growth regulatory pathways, CSCs also change the tumor microenvironment and resist endogenous immune attack. Thus, CSCs can interfere with each stage of carcinogenesis from malignant transformation to the onset of metastasis to tumor recurrence. A thorough review of novel targeted agents to act against CSCs is fundamental for advancing cancer treatment in the setting of both intrinsic and acquired resistance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5098
Issue number20
StatePublished - Oct 1 2021


  • Bladder cancer
  • Cancer recurrence
  • Cancer stem cells
  • Head and neck cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Signaling pathways
  • Targeted therapy
  • Therapeutic resistance
  • Tumor microenvironment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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