Novel therapeutic strategies targeting liver cancer stem cells

Takahiro Ochiya


Novel strategies against treatment-resistant tumor cells remain a major challenge but a promising therapeutic method. Over the past decade, despite accumulated evidence suggesting the presence of highly malignant cell populations within tumors, the issues such as in vivo targeting and clinical relevance remain unsolved. In liver cancer, which is the 5th most common cancer in worldwide, several hepatic stem/progenitor markers are found for isolating a subset of liver cells with stem cell features, such as cancer stem cells (CSCs) which are responsible for tumor drug resistance, relapse, and metastasis (1). Currently, Yamashita’s group focused on chromodomain helicase DNA binding protein 4 (CHD 4), a component of the histone deacetylase NuRD complex which participates in the remodeling of chromatin by deacetylating histones (2). They found that CHD4, which is specifically expressed in CSC fractions with [epithelial cell adhesion molecule (EpCAM)]+, could be a therapeutic approach against liver CSCs.