According to the modern concept of Cancer Stem Cells (CSCs), a tiny cell population that causes tumor initiation, propagation, metastasis and relapses, the CSC is considered an ideal target for design of new anti-cancer drugs.
I was really thrilled by a message from the last article in April issue of Nature Biotechnology, which reviewed the current cancer stem cell drug market.
This article was written because of the news that pharmaceutical giant company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) dealing (= 1.4$ billions) with OncoMed Pharmaceuticals about licensing a few antibodies, targeting CSC. Importantly, GSK’s interest to OncoMed comes from desperation about situation in the field of screening of new anti-cancer drugs.
Some researchers now believe the only way to cure cancer is by killing the stem cells that give rise to it.
Ok, developing the concept of CSC gives a good stimulus for new start up companies and for “big pharma” for acquire them. It’s seems to be good, but reality is not that clear.
The number of companies devoted to this research has grown from 17 in April 2007 to nearly 40 today. The problem is that not everyone even believes that targeting cancer stem cells will yield therapeutic benefits.
and even more:
Meanwhile, as commercial entities grow up around it, skeptics question the validity of targeting cancer stem cells.
But others remain cautious as, in some instances, claims pointing to the existence of cancer stem cells have turned out to be wrong upon closer inspection. “More studies are needed to confirm that cancer stem cells were in fact targeted by Tyverb,” Bates notes. “We need further evidence to show that cancer stem cells in humans have been fully characterized. And we need ways to demonstrate that a particular subpopulation of cells has been reduced by treatment,” he notes.
So, it seems like companies don’t really know or are not really sure what they are targeting, but they already claim – cancer stem cells! And they “sell it” to us. But who are buyers? Buyers are desperate cancer patients who really DO NOT CARE what the heck researchers and companies are targeting, as long as it works and makes them survive.
I’ll finish with the table, which shows the most prominent candidates for cancer stem cell market:
Charlie Schmidt. Drug makers chase cancer stem cells. Nat Biotechnol 2008;26:366; doi:10.1038/nbt0408-366c