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Cancer Stem Cell Assays

Cancer stem cells refer to the few cells with self-renewal ability and differentiation potential that exist in tumor tissue. In recent years, with the successive isolation and purification of solid tumor stem cells, research on the biological behavior of cancer stem cells has become the focus of research on the prevention and treatment of malignant tumors. In the past, everyone thought that a tumor was a homogeneous mass of fast-proliferating cells, so treatment was aimed at the fast-proliferating cells. After the emergence of the cancer stem cell theory, people realized that cancer stem cells that are insensitive to the treatment methods used for rapidly proliferating differentiated cells are the root cause of the failure of conventional treatment. The treatment of cancer stem cells should be more distinctive than that of most tumor cells. As a result, finding a combination therapy that can both reduce tumor burden and eliminate cancer stem cells is a challenge for cancer treatment. Cancer stem cells play an extremely important role in the recurrence and metastasis of tumors, but the current intervention therapy for cancer stem cells is in the preclinical research stage, so there is no mature method for targeting and regulating the function of cancer stem cells.


Inhibitory effect of sulforaphane on mammosphere formation

 (A) Primary mammospheres were incubated with sulforaphane (0.5, 1, and 5 μM) or DMSO for 7 days. Sulforaphane treatment reduced the number of primary mammospheres. (B) Sulforaphane reduced the size of primary mammospheres(magnification × 100). The size of mammospheres was estimated using V = (4/3)π R3 .


Li Y, Zhang T, Korkaya H, et al. Sulforaphane, a dietary component of broccoli/broccoli sprouts, inhibits breast cancer stem cells. Clin Cancer Res. 2010;16(9):2580-2590. doi:10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-09-2937