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Cancer stem cells are a subpopulation of tumor cells that have the ability to self-renew, initiate tumors in model systems, and differentiate into non-cancer stem cells. They are also resistant to current standard of care treatments, such as radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Due to these properties, cancer stem cells contribute to tumor progression and recurrence and need to be inclusively targeted with therapeutic paradigms used in the clinical setting. This chapter covers the most up-to-date published information on cancer stem cells in the context of pediatric brain tumors. The characteristics of pediatric brain tumor cancer stem cells, including resistance mechanisms and differential genetic regulation that allow for the stem like phenotype, are presented. The current research on cancer stem cells in medulloblastoma, ependymoma, diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, and pediatric gliomas as well as potential approaches that are being developed to target cancer stem cells are highlighted. Challenges in targeting cancer stem cells in the pediatric patient population are also discussed.
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