The cancer stem cell (CSC) hypothesis proposes a cellular hierarchy in which a subpopulation of cells, with self-renewal and differentiation properties, is responsible for the initiation and the growth of tumors. Originally identified in leukemia by John Dick in 1997, several lines of evidence have demonstrated the existence of CSCs in many solid tumors including breast, brain and colorectal cancers. Their functional properties are associated with a molecular signature combining makers of adult and/or embryonic stem cells. CSCs provide all the subtypes of cells that compose the tumor, including part of vascular endothelial cells and pericytes. A growing body of evidences supports that tumor’s behavior, including proliferation, progression, infiltration, metastasis and - most importantly - a great part of resistance to therapies are determined by these self-renewing tumor cells. It is becoming therefore evident that failure of current treatments to eliminate CSCs contributes to tumor recurrence most often fatal for the patient. Targeting CSCs and their stem-like features constitutes thus, one of the main therapeutic challenges to significantly improve anti-cancer treatments.

Despite huge efforts to characterize CSCs, they remain poorly described. Efforts of research are required to improve our knowledge in many important fields such as the research of tools and specific markers with which to identify these cells; the CSCs contribution to intra tumor heterogeneity; the regulation of their stemness properties and their capacity to differentiate as well as the notion of plasticity and dedifferentiation; the characterization of the molecular mechanisms driving their resistance to treatment; the mechanism that drives the crosstalk between CSCs and tumor microenvironment and the consequence on tumor behavior and progression.To achieve this plan Research teams will need to work together in a collaborative and open fashion, whereby scientists share their research findings at an early stage. Research Teams will be able to mount several major research thrusts to realize the primary objectives of identifying candidate CSC biomarkers and new lead therapeutic anti-CSC agents, and of rapidly translating their use in the clinic.

The main objective of the SUNRISE Network is to build a cancer stem cell consortium (SUd CaNceR Stem cEll network, SUNRiSE network) that will bring together scientists with a common interest for the solid tumor cancer stem cell field

Our specific objectives:

  • To aggregate expertise and resources to build a critical mass of researchers to accelerate the rate of research discoveries in the CSC field.
  • To promote collaborations in order to coordinate efficiently requests for grant applications (National and European)
  • Expand researcher’s breakthroughs to a multi-disciplinary level with a “trans-pathology” interest
  • Accelerate rate and intensity of cancer stem cell research findings and their translation to clinical application (attract clinicians and pharmaceutical companies to develop anti-CSC drug-based clinical trials)

Our mission is to:

  • bring together CSC scientists with the organization of an annual Workshop in order to learn of interest among the participants in collaborative research programs;
  • discuss opportunities and challenges in cancer stem cell (CSC) research
  • identify resources and technology platforms/facilities required to catapult CSC research to the next level
  • discuss and plan funding models to promote joint cancer stem cell projects.