Conventional chemotherapeutics target the proliferating fraction of cells in the patient's body, which will include the tumor cells, but are also toxic to actively proliferating normal tissues. Cellular stresses, such as those imposed by chemotherapeutic drugs, induce cell cycle checkpoint arrest, and currently approaches targeting these checkpoints are being explored to increase the efficacy and selectivity of conventional chemotherapeutic treatments. Loss of a checkpoint may also make cancer cells more reliant on other mechanisms to compensate for the loss of this function, and these compensatory mechanisms may be targeted using synthetic lethal approaches. Here we will discuss the utility of targeting checkpoint defects as novel anti-cancer therapies.
Keywords: checkpoint; synthetic lethality; targeted therapies.