Targeting cancer stem cells to overcome resistance and relapse

Jose Luis Mascareñas


    Jose Luis Mascareñas


    Universidad de Santiago de Compostela


    Lung, breast, colon and pancreatic cancers cause the death of approximately 3 million people each year, representing more than 40% of all cancer deaths worldwide. Many chemotherapies to treat these cancers rely on cytotoxic agents, and fail to remove cancer stem cells (CSCs), a small population of tumor cells primarily responsible for chemoresistance and disease relapse. To date, very few anti-CSC therapies exist, in part due to the inherent plasticity of these cells.

    It has recently been reported that CSCs depend on mitochondrial respiration to meet their energy requirements and maintain their stem-like and immuno-evasive states. The researchers behind this project have identified chemical compounds that are able to specifically target mitochondrial respiration in CSCs, and therefore could avoid CSC-mediated treatment resistance and relapse.

    Results in pancreatic CSCs and in pre-clinical patient-derived models demonstrate potent anti-cancer activity. Importantly, in vivo studies suggest low secondary associated toxicity. With the support of CaixaResearch, the multidisciplinary team will validate the technology in pre-clinical models of different CSC-driven tumors, and develop a commercialization plan to facilitate market access.


    300.000 €


    • Instituto de Investigaciones Biomédicas "Alberto Sols" (CSIC-UAM), Spain