What are Cancer Stem Cells?

Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are a type of stem cell specific to cancer, that is able to reproduce through self-renewal and regeneration into new tumor cells. Cancer stem cells are most dangerous as they are resistant to chemotherapy and cause relapse by creating new tumors. It is critical to find treatments for cancer stem cells to prevent this disease from resurfacing in a person again and again.

Why Recurrences Happen?

Cancer diagnosis is usually followed by treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery. These treatments can be successful in completely abolishing cancer, but it is common for the treatments to kill cancer cells and to shrink tumors and lead to a remission rather than a cure. Remission is a relief from aggressive tumor growth but it is not a cure because some cancer cells—perhaps only a small number—have survived the treatment and though they may be quiescent they are still in the body and can rekindle, spread, and form new tumors. This is the dreaded process of cancer recurrence that often follows a remission that itself may last for months or even years. So if the cancer is not completely eradicated by therapy it remains and the stage is set for recurrence. Another round of cancer treatments may lead to another remission followed by another recurrence and the cycle repeats usually with shorter remissions and more aggressive recurrences. Just why does this happen? Why can’t the cancer be completely abolished? What process enables the cancer to come back?

First, we know that some of the cancer cells survive treatment which means they have become resistant to the anti-cancer drug or drugs being used. In addition to drug resistance we also know that the cells that survive treatments have the capacity to spread out from the original site of the cancer to other parts of the body. And we also know that at these new sites these survivors can initiate new tumor growth. So cancer recurrence is triggered by specialized cancer cells that are drug resistant, metastatic and tumorigenic. These specialized cells form a subpopulation of the cells in a tumor distinct from the primary cancer cells— the ones that are susceptible to anti-cancer drugs. These specialized cells, defined by these three properties, are now referred to as cancer stem cells (CSCs). This name is used because cancer stem cells resemble healthy stem cells in their capacity for endurance and self-renewal. Indeed, in generating stem cells, the tumor hijacks the characteristics of normal stem cells and thereby enables its own self renewal which accounts for cancer recurrence. Healthy stem cells normally enable repair and regeneration of tissues and organs whereas cancer stem cells enable persistence of the disease and generation of new tumors.

A new generation of cancer therapies are needed to target cancer stem cells as well as primary tumor cells

Based on initial breakthrough results on ovarian and pancreatic cancer stem cells, The Beljanski Foundation is initiating a New Research project.

New Research project:
Inhibition of breast cancer stem cells

While recent studies have concluded that the two botanicals Pao pereira and Rauwolfia vomitoria both represent potential therapeutic agents for the treatment of pancreatic and ovarian cancers by targeting cancer stem cells, the Beljanski Foundation has also seen exciting results on breast cancer with a study comparing different kind of green teas:

It would be therefore extremely valuable to see if those results could be reproduced and extended to Breast cancer stem cells. With this new program and for the first time ever, the three botanicals (Pao pereiraRauwolfia vomitoria and green tea extract) will be mixed and studied together for their ability to inhibit breast cancer stem cells. Further research will also be needed to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of this approach in clinical trials and to understand its potential limitations and side effects.

The breast cancer stem cell research project has secured total funding for Phase 1, marking a significant milestone in the quest to understand and combat this complex disease. With Phase 1 underway, Kansas University Medical Center researchers aim to gather crucial data and insights to pave the way for subsequent phases.

The successful completion of Phase 1 will lay the foundation for initiating Phases 2 and 3, where further investigations and advancements will unfold based on the findings.

Additionally, a future research project will focus on Prostate Cancer Stem Cells, reflecting a broader commitment to advancing our understanding of various cancers and developing targeted interventions for improved patient outcomes.

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Many studies have shown that the Pao pereira and a specific reserpine-free Rauwolfia vomitoria extracts are active against a broad spectrum of cancers. To address the problem of Cancer Stem Cells, The Beljanski Foundation has chosen to partner with Kansas University Medical Center to test the activity of the extracts against cancer stem cells.   Ovarian cancer and pancreatic cancer are amongst the most malignant tumors with a high mortality rate owing to tumor relapse after anticancer therapies. It is widely accepted that a rare tumor cell population, known as cancer stem cells (CSC), is responsible for tumor progression and relapse.   The Beljanski Foundation’s partnership with Kansas University Medical Center has led a several breakthrough new studies showing that the Pao pereira and a specific reserpine-free Rauwolfia vomitoria plant extracts are active against  pancreatic and ovarian cancer stem cells.

Breakthrough results on
pancreatic and ovarian cancer stem cells

Inhibition of pancreatic cancer stem cells by Rauwolfia vomitoria extract

The study concludes: “The data obtained in the present study showed that Rau (Rauwolfia vomitoria) reduced protein levels of nuclear β-catenin and Nanog in PANC-1 cells, which are important in stem cell initiation and maintenance. Rau also reduced the mRNA levels of several CSC-related genes, namely Dppa4, Esrrb and Sox2….. The data from animal experiments in the present study revealed the promising effects of Rau in inhibiting tumorigenicity, at a dose and administration route that can be easily translated into clinical use. No toxic side-effects were observed in mice at this dosage. The inhibition of tumorigenicity indicated the possible role of Rau in the prevention of cancer, in addition to data indicating a treatment role.”

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Similar conclusion resulted from the study of Pao pereira on pancreatic CCS: Extract of the Medicinal Plant Pao Pereira Inhibits Pancreatic Cancer Stem-Like Cell In Vitro and In Vivo

Those results were also confirmed with ovarian CCS, with both plant extracts: Extracts of the Medicinal Plants Pao Pereira and Rauwolfia vomitoria Inhibit Ovarian Cancer Stem Cells In Vitro.

Read the full study

Help us fund the new research program on breast cancer stem cells

Why breast cancer stem cells ?

Breast cancer stem cell research is crucially important because breast cancer stem cells are thought to be responsible for the recurrence and metastasis of breast cancer. Breast cancer stem cells are a small subset of cells within a breast tumor that have the ability to self-renew and differentiate into various cell types that make up the tumor.

Unlike other cancer cells, which can be killed by chemotherapy and radiation therapy, breast cancer stem cells have the ability to survive and become resistant to these treatments, leading to tumor regrowth and metastasis.

Therefore, understanding the biology and behavior of breast cancer stem cells is essential for the development of more effective breast cancer treatments. By targeting breast cancer stem cells specifically, it may be possible to prevent tumor recurrence and metastasis, leading to improved outcomes for breast cancer patients.

Additionally, research on breast cancer stem cells may help identify new biomarkers for early detection and diagnosis of breast cancer, as well as potential targets for personalized therapies tailored to the individual patient’s tumor characteristics.

Overall, breast cancer stem cell research is essential for improving our understanding of breast cancer and developing more effective treatments that can ultimately save lives.


Maison Beljanski has renewed its commitment to support our research programs by providing all necessary herbal extracts.

Kansas University Medical Center and
Dr. Qi Chen have agreed to carry the research project as soon as financing is available.

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This project is so important that the Beljanski Foundation is partnering with Panacea Community and Healing Life International to organize an entire conference around this research program.

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