Recent developments in targeting breast cancer stem cells (BCSCs): a descriptive review of therapeutic strategies and emerging therapies

PMID: 38592510
Journal: Medical oncology (Northwood, London, England) (volume: 41, issue: 5, Med Oncol 2024 Apr;41(5):112)
Published: 2024-04-09

Ali K, Nabeel M, Mohsin F, Iqtedar M, Islam M, Rasool MF, Hashmi FK, Hussain SA, Saeed H


Despite recent advancements in the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer (BC), patient outcomes in terms of survival, recurrence, and disease progression remain suboptimal. A significant factor contributing to these challenges is the cellular heterogeneity within BC, particularly the presence of breast cancer stem cells (BCSCs). These cells are thought to serve as the clonogenic nexus for new tumor growth, owing to their hierarchical organization within the tumor. This descriptive review focuses on the evolving strategies to target BCSCs, which have become a pivotal aspect of therapeutic development. We explore a variety of approaches, including targeting specific tumor surface markers (CD133 and CD44), transporters, heat shock proteins, and critical signaling pathways like Notch, Akt, Hedgehog, KLF4, and Wnt/β-catenin. Additionally, we discuss the modulation of the tumor microenvironment through the CXCR-12/CXCR4 axis, manipulation of pH levels, and targeting hypoxia-inducible factors, vascular endothelial growth factor, and CXCR1/2 receptors. Further, this review focuses on the roles of microRNA expression, strategies to induce apoptosis and differentiation in BCSCs, dietary interventions, dendritic cell vaccination, oncolytic viruses, nanotechnology, immunotherapy, and gene therapy. We particularly focused on studies reporting identification of BCSCs, their unique properties and the efficacy of various therapeutic modalities in targeting these cells. By dissecting these approaches, we aim to provide insights into the complex landscape of BC treatment and the potential pathways for improving patient outcomes through targeted BCSC therapies.