tackling cancer stem cells in oral mucosal lesions
Cancer stem cells have been objects of intensive study since their identification in 1994 and a major focus of current cancer research. Recent data indicate that the initiation, growth, recurrence and metastasis of cancers are related to the behavior of this small population of malignant cells with stem cell's properties. The Expression of markers of these cells increases gradually from normal oral mucosa to dysplasia to carcinoma, and also found to be expressed in oral mucosal lesions progressing to carcinoma. We discuss the state of the knowledge on the pathobiology of cancer stem cells including cell-intrinsic mechanisms that could be exploited for their selective elimination or induction of their differentiation, and the role of the tumor microenvironment in sustaining them, with a focus our research results on their expression in oral potentially malignant lesions and possibility to serve as a candidate biomarker for risk assessment of malignant potential and a therapeutic target.