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Clin Cancer Res. 2008 Mar 15;14(6):1649-57. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-07-2218.

Proteasome inhibitors in cancer therapy: lessons from the first decade.

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  • 1Department of Lymphoma/Myeloma, Division of Cancer Medicine, University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.


The ubiquitin-proteasome pathway is involved in intracellular protein turnover, and its function is crucial to cellular homeostasis. First synthesized as probes of proteolytic processes, proteasome inhibitors began to be thought of as potential drug candidates when they were found to induce programmed cell death preferentially in transformed cells. They made their first leap into the clinic to be tested as therapeutic agents 10 years ago, and since then, great strides have been made in defining their mechanisms of action, their clinical efficacy and toxicity, and some of their limitations in the form of resistance pathways. Validation of the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway as a target for cancer therapy has come in the form of approvals of the first such inhibitor, bortezomib, for relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma and mantle cell lymphoma, for which this agent has become a standard of care. Lessons learned from this first-in-class agent are now being applied to the development of a new generation of proteasome inhibitors that hold the promise of efficacy in bortezomib-resistant disease and possibly in a broader spectrum of diseases. This saga provides a salient example of the promise of translational medicine and a paradigm by which other agents may be successfully brought from the bench to the bedside.

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