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Pharmacol Ther. 2001 May-Jun;90(2-3):105-56.

Differentiation therapy of human cancer: basic science and clinical applications.

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Department of Urology, Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center, Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, NY 10032, USA.


Current cancer therapies are highly toxic and often nonspecific. A potentially less toxic approach to treating this prevalent disease employs agents that modify cancer cell differentiation, termed 'differentiation therapy.' This approach is based on the tacit assumption that many neoplastic cell types exhibit reversible defects in differentiation, which upon appropriate treatment, results in tumor reprogramming and a concomitant loss in proliferative capacity and induction of terminal differentiation or apoptosis (programmed cell death). Laboratory studies that focus on elucidating mechanisms of action are demonstrating the effectiveness of 'differentiation therapy,' which is now beginning to show translational promise in the clinical setting.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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