Research Perspectives:

The beating heart of melanomas: a minor subset of cancer cells sustains tumor growth

Patrick Schmidt and Hinrich Abken _

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Oncotarget. 2011; 2:313-320. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.259

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Patrick Schmidt and Hinrich Abken

*Tumor Genetics, Department I of Internal Medicine and Center for Molecular Medicine Cologne, University of Cologne, D-50931 Cologne, Germany

Keywords: melanoma, cancer stem cell, adoptive cell therapy

Received: April 9, 2011; Accepted: April 9, 2011; Published: April 10, 2011;


Hinrich Abken, e-mail:


The recent observation that targeted elimination of a minor subpopulation of melanoma cells can lastingly eradicate the tumor lesion provides strong evidence that an established melanoma lesion is hierarchically organized and maintained by definite subset of cells but not by every random cancer cell. This review discusses the concepts of discrete cancer stem cells and of a cellular hierarchy in melanomas, the rationale for shifting therapies from broad tumor cell cytotoxicity into selective cancer cell elimination strategies and the challenges for future therapeutic concepts.

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