Clinical Trial Design for Testing the Stem Cell Model for the Published: 20 June 2011
The cancer stem cell model introduces new strategies for the prevention and treatment of cancers. In cancers that appear to follow the stem cell model, pathways such as Wnt, Notch and Hedgehog may be targeted with natural compounds such as curcumin or drugs to reduce the risk of initiation of new tumors. Disease progression of established tumors could also potentially be inhibited by targeting the tumorigenic stem cells alone, rather than aiming to reduce overall tumor size. These new approaches mandate a change in the design of clinical trials and biomarkers chosen for efficacy assessment for preventative, neoadjuvant, adjuvant, and palliative treatments. Cancer treatments could be evaluated by assessing stem cell markers before and after treatment. Targeted stem cell specific treatment of cancers may not result in “complete” or “partial” responses radiologically, as stem cell targeting may not reduce the tumor bulk, but eliminate further tumorigenic potential. These changes are discussed using breast, pancreatic, and lung cancer as examples.