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Ann Med. 2006;38(3):200-11.

Targeting the ERK signaling pathway in cancer therapy.

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  • 1Laboratory of Cell Regulation, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Nagasaki University, Bunkyo-machi, Japan.


The extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) signaling pathway is a major determinant in the control of diverse cellular processes such as proliferation, survival, differentiation and motility. This pathway is often up-regulated in human tumors and as such represents an attractive target for the development of anticancer drugs. Because of its multiple roles in the acquisition of a complex malignant phenotype, specific blockade of the ERK pathway is expected to result in not only an anti-proliferative effect but also in anti-metastatic and anti-angiogenic effects in tumor cells. Recently potent small-molecule inhibitors targeting the components of the ERK pathway have been developed. Among them, BAY 43-9006 (Raf inhibitor), and PD184352, PD0325901 and ARRY-142886 (MEK1/2 inhibitors) have reached the clinical trial stage. We briefly discuss the possibility that combination of ERK pathway inhibitors (cytostatic agents) and conventional anticancer drugs (cytotoxic agents) provides an excellent basis for the development of new chemotherapeutic strategies against cancer.

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