Double-edged swords as cancer therapeutics: simultaneously targeting p53 and NF-kappaB pathways

Nat Rev Drug Discov. 2008 Dec;7(12):1031-40. doi: 10.1038/nrd2759.


The p53 and nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kappaB) pathways play crucial roles in human cancer, in which inactivation of p53 and hyperactivation of NF-kappaB is a common occurrence. Activation of p53 and inhibition of NF-kappaB promotes apoptosis. Although drugs are being designed to selectively activate p53 or inhibit NF-kappaB, there is no concerted effort yet to deliberately make drugs that can simultaneously do both. Recent results suggest that a surprising selection of small molecules have this desirable dual activity. In this Review we describe the principles behind such dual activities, describe the current candidate molecules and suggest mechanisms and approaches to their further development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Active Transport, Cell Nucleus / drug effects
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinases / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Drug Design
  • Humans
  • NF-kappa B / drug effects
  • NF-kappa B / physiology*
  • Neoplasm Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Phosphorylation
  • Purines / therapeutic use
  • Roscovitine
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / drug effects
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / physiology*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • NF-kappa B
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Purines
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53
  • Roscovitine
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinases