Exploiting cancer cell cycling for selective protection of normal cells

Cancer Res. 2001 Jun 1;61(11):4301-5.


Chemotherapy of cancer is limited by its toxicity to normal cells. On the basis of discoveries in signal transduction and cell cycle regulation, novel mechanism-based therapeutics are being developed. Although these cell cycle modulators were designed to target cancer cells, some of them can also be applied for a different purpose, i.e., to protect normal cells against the lethality of chemotherapy. Loss of sensitivity of cancer cells to cell cycle inhibitors can be exploited for selective protection of normal cells that retain this response. Indeed, inhibition of redundant or overactivated pathways (e.g., growth factor-activated pathways) or stimulation of absent pathways in cancer cells (e.g., p53, Rb, and p16) may not arrest cycling of cancer cells. But growth arrest of normal cells will then permit selective killing of cancer cells by cycle-dependent chemotherapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Cell Cycle / drug effects*
  • Cell Cycle / physiology*
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / pathology*


  • Antineoplastic Agents