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Expert Opin Investig Drugs. 2006 Aug;15(8):933-46.

Cationic antimicrobial peptides as novel cytotoxic agents for cancer treatment.

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Dalhousie University, Department of Pathology, Faculty of Medicine, Sir Charles Tupper Medical Building, 5850 College Street, Halifax, Nova Scotia, B3H 1X5, Canada.


Cancer treatment by conventional chemotherapy is hindered by toxic side effects and the frequent development of multi-drug resistance by cancer cells. Cationic antimicrobial peptides (CAPs) are a promising new class of natural-source drugs that may avoid the shortcomings of conventional chemotherapy because certain CAPs exhibit selective cytotoxicity against a broad spectrum of human cancer cells, including neoplastic cells that have acquired a multi-drug-resistant phenotype. Tumour cell killing by CAPs is usually by a cell membrane-lytic effect, although some CAPs can trigger apoptosis in cancer cells via mitochondrial membrane disruption. Furthermore, certain CAPs are potent inhibitors of blood vessel development (angiogenesis) that is associated with tumour progression. This article reviews the mechanisms by which CAPs exert anticancer activity and discusses the potential application of selected CAPs as therapeutic agents for the treatment of human cancers.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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