Stem cells are the multi-lineage progenitors of all specialized cells in the body. They are undifferentiated cells that have the ability to become any type of cell and thus form all the tissues and organs of the body. The evidence that both embryonic and adult tissue stem cells have the ability to produce progenitor cells for tissue renewal has opened vast possibilities for treatment of debilitating diseases like Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, type-1 diabetes, end-stage kidney disease, liver failure, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, stroke, heart disease, osteoarthritis, as well as for regeneration of damaged tissues, and cancer. The most fundamental question in organogenesis is how do a small number of stem cells produce a complex three-dimensional tissue with different types of mature cells in different locations? By understanding the mechanisms that regulate organogenesis from stem cells, it is also possible to identify molecular links between stem cell function and disease. Perhaps the most important and useful property of stem cells is that of self-renewal. Through this property, striking parallels can be found between stem cells and cancer cells. Tumors may often originate from the transformation of normal stem cells and similar signaling pathways may regulate self-renewal in stem cells and cancer cells. Cancer cells may include 'cancer stem cells', a rare type of cells with indefinite potential for self-renewal that forms tumor. Although the origin of the cancer stem cells is not identified yet, the concept of the cancer stem cells may allow new treatment options in the possible cure of the cancer. However, further research is needed to identify and isolate the cancer stem cells in various cancers from normal stem cells and other cancer cells. Furthermore, research is also needed to differentiate the genes and signaling pathways in the process of the carcinogenesis from cancer stem cells for development of anti-cancer therapies, with the eventual goal of eliminating the residual disease and recurrence. The Stem cells: organogenesis and cancer presents the recent developments in the field of stem cells and its application in organogenesis and cancer research using both embryonic and adult stem cells from model organism to humans. The book is divided into two parts. First part of the book covers stem cells in organogenesis and regeneration of tissue/organs in model organism to humans using embryonic stem cell, cord blood stem cells, germline stem cells, and adult stem cells. Second part of the book covers the application of stem cells in treatment of various types of cancer by targeting cancer stem cells, now considered as backbone in the development of the cancer and their role in carcinogenesis. We would like to thank our authors for their precious expertise and diligent efforts during completion of this book. We are indebted to our publisher, Transworld Research Network, and especially to Dr. S.G. Pandalai and A. Gayathri, without their trust and editorial guidance this work would not have begun. We would like to thank our family members for their patience and support during completion of this book.
Stem Cells: Organogenesis and Cancer. Singh SR (author, editor), Mishra PK (editor), and Hou SX (author, editor). Transworld Research Network, June 2010.