Signal transduction--directed cancer treatments

Annu Rev Pharmacol Toxicol. 2003;43:199-231. doi: 10.1146/annurev.pharmtox.43.100901.135813. Epub 2002 Jan 10.


The pathogenic mechanisms giving rise to cancer frequently involve altered signal transduction pathways. Therefore therapeutic agents that directly address signal transduction molecules are being explored as cancer treatments. Inhibitors of protein tyrosine and threonine kinases including STI-571, ZD-1839, OSI-774, and flavopiridol are ATP-site antagonists that have completed initial phase I and phase II evaluations. Herceptin and C225 are monoclonal antibodies also directed against signaling targets. Numerous other kinase antagonists are in clinical evaluation, including UCN-01 and PD184352. Alternative strategies to downmodulate kinase-driven signaling include 17-allyl-amino-17-demethoxygeldanamycin and rapamycin derivatives, and phospholipase-directed signaling may be modulated by alkylphospholipids. Farnesyltransferase inhibitors were originally developed as inhibitors of ras-driven signals but may have activity by affecting other or additional targets. Signal transduction will remain a fertile basis for suggesting cancer treatments of the future, the evaluation of which should include monitoring effects of the drugs on their intended target signaling molecules in preclinical and early clinical studies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Drug Design*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects*


  • Antineoplastic Agents