Cancer stem cell markers: What is their diagnostic value?

Chia Ying Lin, Lin Wang, Khoi Than, Frank La Marca, Paul Park

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Importance of the field: Cancer resistance to conventional therapies has been attributed to cancer stem cells (CSCs). Although a variety of markers have been reported, a universal marker has not yet been found to identify CSCs. Better identification of these CSCs may lead to new therapies that selectively target these cells and thereby result in more effective treatment. This article categorizes the types of marker that have been identified and explores their potential diagnostic and therapeutic value. Areas covered in this review: A focused literature review of studies relating to CSCs and their identification was conducted. Databases evaluated include MEDLINE and Web of Science through 2009. What the reader will gain: The ideal identification method needs to be effective and practical in terms of application. The measurement of aldehyde dehydrogenase activity is simple to accomplish compared with other reported identification methods; however, cell surface antigens have been studied most frequently in the therapeutic targeting of CSCs. Take home message: Although specific targeting methods have been reported for various cancers, there does not appear to be a proven universal marker for CSCs that would apply to all cancers. Each particular identification method appears to have advantages and disadvantages. From a therapeutic standpoint, targeting of these CSCs should improve prognosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)473-481
Number of pages9
JournalExpert Opinion on Medical Diagnostics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • cancer stem cells
  • diagnostic markers
  • self-renewal
  • tumorigenicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Biochemistry, medical


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