Apoptosis-based therapies and drug targets

Cell Death Differ. 2005 Aug;12 Suppl 1:942-61. doi: 10.1038/sj.cdd.4401556.


The pathogenesis of many diseases is most closely connected with aberrantly regulated apoptotic cell death. The past 15 years have witnessed an explosion in the basic knowledge of mechanisms that regulate apoptosis and the mediators that either trigger or inhibit cell death. Consequently, great interest has emerged in devising therapeutic strategies for modulating the key molecules of life-and-death decisions. Numerous novel approaches are currently being followed employing gene therapy and antisense strategies, recombinant biologics or classical organic and combinatorial chemistry in order to target specific apoptotic regulators. Although drug development is still in its infancy, several therapeutics have progressed to clinical testing or have even been approved in record time. This review outlines the recent advances in the field of apoptosis-based therapies and explores some highlights of a very active field of drug development.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins / pharmacology*
  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins / therapeutic use
  • Caspase Inhibitors
  • Caspases / metabolism
  • Drug Delivery Systems
  • Drug Screening Assays, Antitumor
  • Enzyme Activation / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / pharmacology*
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / therapeutic use
  • Neoplasm Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Neoplasm Proteins / metabolism
  • Oligonucleotides, Antisense / administration & dosage
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / metabolism
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor / agonists*
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor / metabolism
  • TNF-Related Apoptosis-Inducing Ligand
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / pharmacology*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / therapeutic use
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / genetics
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / metabolism


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins
  • Caspase Inhibitors
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Oligonucleotides, Antisense
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor
  • TNF-Related Apoptosis-Inducing Ligand
  • TNFSF10 protein, human
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53
  • immunosuppressive acidic protein
  • Caspases