Apoptosis and cancer: the genesis of a research field

Nat Rev Cancer. 2009 Jul;9(7):501-7. doi: 10.1038/nrc2663.


In multicellular organisms, the total number of cells is a balance between the cell-generating effects of mitosis and cell death that is induced through apoptosis. A disruption of this delicate balance can lead to the development of cancer. This Timeline article focuses on how the field of apoptosis biology has developed in the context of its contribution to our understanding of cell death, or lack of it, in the development of malignant disease. It traces the course of research from key discoveries in fundamental biology to potential therapeutic applications.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis*
  • DNA Damage
  • Genes, myc
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / physiology
  • Signal Transduction
  • Tumor Escape
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / physiology
  • bcl-2-Associated X Protein / physiology
  • fas Receptor / physiology


  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53
  • bcl-2-Associated X Protein
  • fas Receptor