1-minute animation: What is a cancer stem cell?

Why cancer stem cells are unique and not effectively killed by chemotherapy

What is a cancer stem cell? Narrated by Dr. John Dick from Stem Cell Network on Vimeo.


Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are cancer cells that have all the classical properties of normal stem cells. Specifically, they are able to both give rise to more copies of themselves (self renewal) and to give rise to all cell types found in the cancer (differentiation). Of all the cancerous cells in a tumor, CSCs are thought to be tumorigenic (tumor-forming), perhaps in contrast to other non-tumorigenic cancer cells. Because of this, if CSCs are not eliminated by radiotherapy or chemotherapy, they are able to cause relapse and metastasis by giving rise to new tumors. And because they do not divide rapidly, they are not effectively killed by chemotherapy. Therefore, development of specific therapies targeted at CSCs holds hope for improvement of survival and quality of life of cancer patients.

StemCellShorts are narrated by experts in various aspects of stem cell research who are based in Canada. This one is narrated by Dr. John Dick, Senior Scientist at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre at the University of Toronto.

About StemCellShorts

StemCellShorts are the brainchild of Ben Paylor (@BenPaylor), a PhD candidate in Experimental Medicine at the University of British Columbia, and Dr. Mike Long, a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Toronto.

The latest videos are jointly funded by the Canadian Stem Cell Network and Canadian Stem Cell Foundation. They are produced at the Vancouver-based animation studio InfoShots (@InfoShots), with award-winning animator David Murawsky and Emmy-nominated composer James Wallace creating the animations and music.

Recently, StemCellShorts received Honorable Mention in the Video category of the National Science Foundation's Visualization of Science competition. The videos were selected out of 227 entries submitted from 17 countries and were bested only by a video submitted by a team from NASA.


Elsevier Connect Contributors

Ben PaylorMike Long, PhDBen Paylor (@BenPaylor) is a PhD candidate in the Experimental Medicine program under the supervision of Dr. Fabio Rossi at the University of British Columbia. His research focuses on understanding the role of tissue-resident mesenchymal progenitors in repair processes of the heart. He is a 2012-13 Action Canada fellow and 2014-15 Friedman Scholar.

Paylor completed a Bachelor of Medical Science at the University of Western Ontario, which included a 1-year research exchange to Umea in Northern Sweden. After that, he, he completed a Master of Philosophy degree in Cardiovascular Biology and Medicine at Maastricht University in the Netherlands.

He is also very interested in the field of science communication and policy. He is the co-founder and director of InfoShots and writer and director of several award-winning science films. Outside of science, he is an avid pianist and tennis player.

Dr. Mike Long earned his PhD in the Department of Medical Genetics at the University of British Columbia, where he was also involved in the creation of several start-up companies, including the animation studio InfoShots and the iOS development company Watermelon App Works Inc.

As a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Toronto, he is currently focused on the identification of ligands for orphan nuclear receptors and remains involved in a number science communication and education projects.

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