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Growth Factors. 2011 Aug;29(4):140-52. doi: 10.3109/08977194.2011.595411. Epub 2011 Jun 30.

Exploring anti-TGF-β therapies in cancer and fibrosis.

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Department of Molecular Cell Biology and Centre for Biomedical Genetics, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, The Netherlands.


Transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) is a multifunctional cytokine, with important roles in maintaining tissue homeostasis. TGF-β signals via transmembrane serine/threonine kinase receptors and intracellular Smad transcriptional regulators. Perturbed TGF-β signaling has been implicated in a large variety of pathological conditions. Increased TGF-β levels have been found in patients with cancer, fibrosis, and systemic sclerosis, and were correlated with disease severity. In cancer, TGF-β mediates tumor invasion and metastasis by affecting both tumor cells and the tumor microenvironment including fibroblast activation and immune suppression. Furthermore, TGF-β is a strong stimulator of extracellular matrix deposition. On the basis of these observations, small molecule inhibitors of the TGF-β receptor kinases, neutralizing antibodies that interfere with ligand?receptor interactions, antisense oligonucleotides reducing TGF-β expression, and soluble receptor ectodomains that sequester TGF-β have been developed to intervene with excessive TGF-β signaling activity in the aforementioned disorders. Here, we review the current state of anti-TGF-β therapy in clinical trials.

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