Angel G Martin
Cancer and developmental biology scientists realized over a century ago that genes and pathways relevant to cancer overlap with embryonic development as reflected in the reactivation of embryonic genes during tumor progression. Consequently the question was raised of whether tumors could arise from transformation of tissue stem cells or “retro-differentiation” of more differentiated cells. Nearly 40 years later, these ideas and questions are still hot spots in cancer research. The “retrodifferentation” concept can be now translated as cellular plasticity, a process by which non-stem differentiated cells can spontaneously acquire stem cell like characteristics . This phenomenon has important implications for cancer therapy and a big impact on our current view of the cancer stem cell hypothesis.