Date of Award

Winter 3-23-2015

Degree Type


Degree Name




Faculty Advisor

Fazlul Sarkar


With a 5-year survival rate of less than 20%, lung cancer is a leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide. Considering the treatments currently in place, this statistic is frankly shocking. A possible explanation for the disconnect between sophisticated treatments and the survival rate can be found in the Cancer Stem Cell (CSC) hypothesis. The CSC hypothesis suggests the idea of a subpopulation of tumor cells with the abilities of self-renewal, cancer initiation, and further maintenance of tumors. Lung CSCs have been associated with resistance to radiation and chemotherapeutic treatments. CSCs have also been implicated in recurrent cancers; if the CSCs are not completely killed off after treatment, the cancer tends to reemerge. Extensive investigation of CSCs to determine their responsibility in recurrent and drug-resistant cancers heavily relied on the use of specific markers present in CSCs, including CD133, ALDH, ABCG2, and Nanog. Yet another method that results in increased resistance to treatment is epithelial mesenchymal transition, or EMT. Through this process, epithelial cells lose the epithelial phenotype and gain mesenchymal properties. One of these properties is increased drug- resistance, rendering EMT culpable – at least in part – for drug-resistance in cancer cells . Furthermore, since miRNA-based therapies are coming to light, various miRNAs will be discussed in terms of their relationship to chemoresistance as well as CSCs in general. Finally, a discussion of the natural and synthetic anti-cancer compounds curcumin, CDF, and BR-DIM will ensue.