Immunotherapies Towards Tumor Initiating Cells and Cancer Stem Cells

Prithi Rajan*, 1, 2, Roopa Srinivasan2
1 Center for Stem Cell Research, Christian Medical College, Vellore 632 002, India, and
2 Agni Consulting Services, San Marcos, CA 92069, USA

© 2008 Rajan and Srinivasan;

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Center for Stem Cell Research, Christian Medical College, Vellore 632 002, India; Tel: +91 4162284115, +91 97897 69507; Fax: +91 416 2284103; E-mails:,


Active immunotherapy of cancer is a promising treatment modality by inducing long lived tumor reactive immune effector cells. Several vaccine trials have indicated that its effectiveness is probably best when the tumor burden is low. An attractive population of cells to target by this approach may be tumor initiating cells (TICs). Recent research suggests that such types of cells may be precursors to cancer possibly giving rise to metastatic disease. Although more work is being done to characterize appropriate phenotypic and functional markers, this population of cells would make an ideal target for active immunotherapy in high risk patients, so as to achieve remission over much longer periods of time. This review gives an overview of the potential of immunotherapy and how it may target TICs as a potential treatment option for cancer patients.