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Bioconjug Chem. 2015 Jun 17;26(6):987-99. doi: 10.1021/acs.bioconjchem.5b00196. Epub 2015 May 14.

Enzyme-instructed self-assembly: a multistep process for potential cancer therapy.

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Department of Chemistry, Brandeis University, 415 South Street, Waltham, Massachusetts 02454, United States.


The central dogma of the action of current anticancer drugs is that the drug tightly binds to its molecular target for inhibition. The reliance on tight ligand-receptor binding, however, is also the major root of drug resistance in cancer therapy. In this article, we highlight enzyme-instructed self-assembly (EISA)-the integration of enzymatic transformation and molecular self-assembly-as a multistep process for the development of cancer therapy. Using apoptosis as an example, we illustrate that the combination of enzymatic transformation and self-assembly, in fact, is an inherent feature of apoptosis. After the introduction of EISA of small molecules in the context of supramolecular hydrogelation, we describe several key studies to underscore the promises of EISA for developing cancer therapy. Particularly, we will highlight that EISA allows one to develop approaches to target "undruggable" targets or "untargetable" features of cancer cells and provides the opportunity for simultaneously interacting with multiple targets. We envision that EISA, used separately or in combination with current anticancer therapeutics, will ultimately lead to a paradigm shift for developing anticancer medicine that inhibit multiple hallmark capabilities of cancer.

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