Biomaterials to suppress cancer stem cells and disrupt their tumoral niche
Lack of improvement in the treatment options of several types of cancer can largely be attributed to the presence of a subpopulation of cancer cells with stem cell signatures and to the tumoral niche that supports and protects these cells. This review analyses the main strategies that specifically modulate or suppress cancer stem cells (CSCs) and the tumoral niche (TN), focusing on the role of biomaterials (i.e. implants, nanomedicines, etc.) in these therapies. In the case of CSCs, we discuss differentiation therapies and the disruption of critical cellular signaling networks. For the TN, we analyze diverse strategies to modulate tumor hypervascularization and hypoxia, tumor extracellular matrix, and the inflammatory and tumor immunosuppressive environment. Due to their capacity to control drug disposition and integrate diverse functionalities, biomaterial-based therapies can provide important benefits in these strategies. We illustrate this by providing case studies where biomaterial-based therapies either show CSC suppression and TN disruption or improved delivery of major modulators of these features. Finally, we discuss the future of these technologies in the framework of these emerging therapeutic concepts.