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Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine ›› 2012, Vol. 10 ›› Issue (5): 493-503.doi: 10.3736/jcim20120503

• Review • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Cancer stem cells and the impact of Chinese herbs, isolates and other complementary medical botanicals: A review

Daniel A. Weber 1,2,3(), Janelle M. Wheat1,4,5, Geoffrey M. Currie1,4,5   

  1. 1. Faculty of Science, Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, NSW 2678, Australia;
    2. Tianjin University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Tianjin 300193, China;
    3. Oncology Section, World Federation of Chinese Medical Societies, Beijing 100101, China;
    4. Centre for Research in Complex Systems, Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, NSW 2678, Australia;
    5. Australian School of Advanced Medicine, Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW 2113, Australia;
  • Received:2012-02-05 Accepted:2012-02-29 Online:2012-05-20 Published:2018-06-15
  • Contact: A. Weber Daniel

To elucidate the connection between the origin of certain cancers and stem cells, cancer stem cells, the stem cell niche and the tumor microenvironment, and to examine the ability of traditional Chinese herbal medicines and isolates in treating these types of cancers, the existing literature was examined and eight studies regarding Chinese herbal medicines and the prevention of cancer recurrence were critically analyzed and evaluated. Tumor stem cells may be the final target of traditional Chinese medicine. Soy flavones, ginsenoside Rg3, parthenolide, berbamine and curcumin are several examples of Chinese herbal medicines, which have been shown to be effective in the treatment of cancer, and seem to act by targeting cancer stem cells and associated pathways resulting in tumorigenesis. The treatment approaches combined with an overall treatment protocol for the tumor microenvironment and chronic systemic inflammation are likely to provide a more successful outcome than a single tactical approach. As shown in numerous studies in the literature, using complementary disciplines with orthodox treatments may enhance treatment outcomes.

Key words: neoplastic stem cells, DNA methylation, cell hypoxia, telomere, telomerase, drugs, Chinese herbal, review


Cancer Stem cell marker
Acute myeloid leukemia CD34+ CD38-[76]
Brain tumor (human
CD133+, U87[77,78,79,80,81]
Breast cancer CD44+ CD24-/low Lineage-[1,3]
Prostate cancer CD44+α2 β1hi CD133+[82]
Retinoblastoma ABCG2+[83]
Lung cancer SP-C+CCA+[84]
Colorectal cancer CD133+, SW1222, LS180, CCK81[85,86]
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