Cancer stem cells and drug resistance: The potential of nanomedicine

Serguei Vinogradov, Xin Wei

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

382 Scopus citations


Properties of the small group of cancer cells called tumor-initiating or cancer stem cells (CSCs) involved in drug resistance, metastasis and relapse of cancers can significantly affect tumor therapy. Importantly, tumor drug resistance seems to be closely related to many intrinsic or acquired properties of CSCs, such as quiescence, specific morphology, DNA repair ability and overexpression of antiapoptotic proteins, drug efflux transporters and detoxifying enzymes. The specific microenvironment (niche) and hypoxic stability provide additional protection against anticancer therapy for CSCs. Thus, CSC-focused therapy is destined to form the core of any effective anticancer strategy. Nanomedicine has great potential in the development of CSC-targeting drugs, controlled drug delivery and release, and the design of novel gene-specific drugs and diagnostic modalities. This review is focused on tumor drug resistance-related properties of CSCs and describes current nanomedicine approaches, which could form the basis of novel combination therapies for eliminating metastatic and CSCs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)597-615
Number of pages19
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • cancer microenvironment
  • cancer stem cells
  • drug efflux transporters
  • drug resistance
  • nanomedicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • General Materials Science


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