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Nat Rev Cancer. 2006 Sep;6(9):729-34. Epub 2006 Aug 17.

mTOR and cancer: insights into a complex relationship.

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Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, MIT Department of Biology, 9 Cambridge Center, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02142-1479, USA.


mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin) has come a long way since its humble beginnings as a kinase of unknown function. As part of the mTORC1 and mTORC2 complexes mTOR has key roles in several pathways that are involved in human cancer, stimulating interest in mTOR inhibitors and placing it on the radar of the pharmaceutical industry. Here, I discuss the rationale for the use of drugs that target mTOR, the unexpectedly complex mechanism of action of existing mTOR inhibitors and the potential benefits of developing drugs that function through different mechanisms. The purpose is not to cover all aspects of mTOR history and signalling, but rather to foster discussion by presenting some occasionally provocative ideas.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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