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From The CriticsReviewer: Luigi Strizzi, MD, PhD (Children's Memorial Research Center)
Description: This is a succinct analysis of the concept of cancer stem cells (CSCs) in the context of basic and clinical science. The book describes important areas of cancer stem cell research including such topics as isolation and purification of CSCs, signaling pathways involved during self renewal, and pluripotency of these cells, as well as molecular approaches that may be employed to potentially target these pathways.
Purpose: The purpose is to focus on the clinical and therapeutic implications of CSCs. By exploring the concepts derived from basic research and effectively projecting these into the realm of clinical science, the book illuminates the importance of targeting CSCs in order to improve the efficacy of present-day anticancer therapy.
Audience: The editor is an established authority in the field who has published numerous important observations in CSC research. His selection of the diverse areas of CSC research covered in the different chapters will satisfy not only the interests of basic and clinical scientists, but also help students understand the complexity involved in cancer therapy and appreciate how CSC research is shedding new light on alternative therapeutic strategies that may compliment present-day approaches.
Features: The book is well written and describes in a general fashion the concepts necessary for basic comprehension of the biology and clinical relevancy of CSCs research. Most of the color illustrations are clear and useful in summarizing the important aspects of CSC research discussed in the text. Some figures, however, have typos. For example, in figure 8-2 there is a typo for the symbol gamma-secretase. Also, it would have been intriguing to mention in the chapter on melanoma cancer stem cells some of the current issues associated with the debate on the actual scarcity of CSCs in melanoma. Finally, the chapter title, "Targeting the Notch Signaling Pathway in Cancer Stem Cells," seems to imply that the different approaches discussed have been tested on CSCs, but no specific examples of results describing the effects of targeting notch signaling pathways in CSCs are mentioned. This is important for understanding the potential for unwanted side effects in normal and somatic stem cells given the pleiotropic nature of notch signaling.
Assessment: Although work is still needed to identify specific markers that can be employed to identify and/or target CSCs and much debate surrounds whether tumor growth is actually driven by a presumably small subgroup of cells that can be called CSCs, the book does address useful areas in CSC research. The authors are successful in describing in a comprehensive way many concepts such as characterization and isolation of CSCs, the role played by CSCs during tumorigenesis and propagation of cancer, how CSCs may be responsible for resistance to therapy and recurrence, and how future targeting of the molecular mechanisms responsible for these characteristics in CSCs may improve cancer therapy.
(Reviewer Note: The histological images on the cover of this book have been published previously as a color panel for chapter 8, figure 2 in Stem Cells and Cancer, Bagley and Teicher (Humana Press, 2009))