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Expert Opin Ther Targets. 2011 May;15(5):609-21. doi: 10.1517/14728222.2011.561201. Epub 2011 Mar 10.

Therapeutic targeting of tumor-stroma interactions.

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  • 1Cardiff University, Welsh School of Pharmacy, Cardiff, UK. HiscoxSE1@cf.ac.uk



Cancers exist within a complex microenvironment populated by diverse cell types within a protein-rich extracellular matrix. It is becoming increasingly apparent that molecular interactions between epithelial cells and cells in the surrounding stroma promote growth, invasion and spread of the tumor itself and thus represents a crucial underlying driving force in tumorigenesis.


This article reviews how key interactions between tumor epithelial cells and surrounding mesenchymal and immune cells can promote tumor progression and highlights molecular elements that might represent novel therapeutic targets.


The tumor microenvironment is increasingly being viewed as a potential therapeutic target with a number of strategies being developed to disrupt tumor-stroma interactions, in order to delay or circumvent tumor progression. Targeting elements of the tumor microenvironment, or signaling pathways in tumor cells activated as a consequence of stromal interactions, may prove a useful therapeutic strategy to prevent tumor development and progression. However, given the tumor cells' ability to circumvent various therapeutic agents when given as monotherapy, the success of these agents is likely to be seen when used in combination with existing treatments.

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