Apoptosis in the treatment of cancer: a promise kept?

Curr Opin Cell Biol. 2006 Dec;18(6):668-76. doi: 10.1016/j.ceb.2006.10.008. Epub 2006 Oct 16.


A common feature of cancer cells is their ability to evade apoptosis as a result of alterations that block cell death signaling pathways. The extensive research efforts that elucidated these signaling pathways over the past decade have set the stage for the development of therapeutic agents that either kill cancer cells selectively or reset their apoptotic threshold. Over the past two years a number of these agents have been evaluated in preclinical and clinical trials. The results of these studies suggest that it might soon be possible to modulate apoptosis in cancer cells for therapeutic benefit.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Apoptosis / genetics*
  • Caspases / drug effects
  • Caspases / genetics
  • Caspases / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Mitochondrial Proteins / drug effects
  • Mitochondrial Proteins / genetics
  • Mitochondrial Proteins / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / drug effects
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / genetics
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / metabolism
  • Receptors, TNF-Related Apoptosis-Inducing Ligand / agonists
  • Receptors, TNF-Related Apoptosis-Inducing Ligand / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / genetics*
  • X-Linked Inhibitor of Apoptosis Protein / drug effects
  • X-Linked Inhibitor of Apoptosis Protein / genetics
  • X-Linked Inhibitor of Apoptosis Protein / metabolism


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Mitochondrial Proteins
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • Receptors, TNF-Related Apoptosis-Inducing Ligand
  • X-Linked Inhibitor of Apoptosis Protein
  • Caspases