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Biol Chem. 2013 Jul;394(7):831-43. doi: 10.1515/hsz-2013-0128.

Targeting caspases in cancer therapeutics.

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Department of Urology, University of Kentucky College of Medicine, 800 Rose Street, Lexington, KY 40536, USA.


The identification of the fundamental role of apoptosis in the growth balance and normal homeostasis against cell proliferation led to the recognition of its loss contributing to tumorigenesis. The mechanistic significance of reinstating apoptosis signaling towards selective targeting of malignant cells heavily exploits the caspase family of death-inducing molecules as a powerful therapeutic platform for the development of potent anticancer strategies. Some apoptosis inhibitors induce caspase expression and activity in preclinical models and clinical trials by targeting both the intrinsic and extrinsic apoptotic pathways and restoring the apoptotic capacity in human tumors. Furthermore, up-regulation of caspases emerges as a sensitizing mechanism for tumors exhibiting therapeutic resistance to radiation and adjuvant chemotherapy. This review provides a comprehensive discussion of the functional involvement of caspases in apoptosis control and the current understanding of reactivating caspase-mediated apoptosis signaling towards effective therapeutic modalities in cancer treatment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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