Researchers have identified CD44 as a potential therapeutic target in treating bladder cancer.
Radioresistance is the major obstacles to positive outcomes in bladder cancer patients after definite chemotherapy. Identification of potential factors that can stratify tumours’ response to specific therapies can aid in the selection of cancer therapy. Cancer stem cells (CSCs) have been reported to play a dominant role in the resistance to current therapies leading to recurrence. However, the lack of a universal CSC marker as well as the ultimate lack of correlation between the marker and the patients’ resistance to therapy, is a major problem with the clinical role of CSCs.
A study done by Chun-Te Wu and team at the Chang Gung University in Taiwan examined the role of CD44, a cancer stem cell surface marker, in bladder cancer. The researchers found that CD44 was significantly linked with higher clinical stage, lower complete response rates, higher loco-regional failure rate and lower survival rate with intact bladder for patients treated with definite trimodality therapy. In addition, the frequency of CD44 immunoreactivity was significantly higher in IL-6-positive bladder cancer specimens.
In vitro and animal experiments using immunocompromised and immunocompetent hosts showed that CD44+ bladder cancer cells appeared more resistant to irradiation and were associated with less radiotherapy-induced cell death.
The data from this study suggests that targeting CD44 directly and/or indirectly by IL-6 signaling could be a promising strategy to improve the prognosis for bladder cancer.