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Expert Opin Ther Targets. 2008 Apr;12(4):463-76. doi: 10.1517/14728222.12.4.463 .

Targeting survivin in cancer therapy.

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  • 1Fondazione IRCCS Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori, Dipartimento di Oncologia Sperimentale, Via Venezian 1, 20133 Milan, Italy.



Survivin is a structurally unique member of the inhibitor of apoptosis protein (IAP) family that acts as a suppressor of apoptosis and plays a central role in cell division. Owing to its massive upregulation in human tumors and its involvement in cancer progression and treatment resistance, survivin is currently undergoing extensive investigation as a novel therapeutic target.


The purpose of this review is to define the potential of survivin as a therapeutic target for new anticancer interventions.


The literature dealing with the therapeutic targeting of survivin has been carefully reviewed.


Several preclinical studies have demonstrated that downregulation of survivin expression or function, accomplished by means of various strategies, reduced tumor growth potential, increased the apoptotic rate and sensitized tumor cells to chemotherapeutic drugs and radiation in different human tumor models. Moreover, the first survivin inhibitors are being currently evaluated in clinical settings.

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