An overview of targeted cancer therapy

Biomedicine (Taipei). 2015 Nov;5(4):19. doi: 10.7603/s40681-015-0019-4. Epub 2015 Nov 28.


Cancer is a multifactorial disease and is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. The contributing factors include specific genetic background, chronic exposure to various environmental stresses and improper diet. All these risk factors lead to the accumulation of molecular changes or mutations in some important proteins in cells which contributes to the initiation of carcinogenesis. Chemotherapy is an effective treatment against cancer but undesirable chemotherapy reactions and the development of resistance to drugs which results in multi-drug resistance (MDR) are the major obstacles in cancer chemotherapy. Strategies which are in practice with limited success include alternative formulations e.g., liposomes, resistance modulation e.g., PSC833, antidotes/toxicity modifiers e.g., ICRF-187 and gene therapy. Targeted therapy is gaining importance due to its specificity towards cancer cells while sparing toxicity to off-target cells. The scope of this review involves the various strategies involved in targeted therapy like-monoclonal antibodies, prodrug, small molecule inhibitors and nano-particulate antibody conjugates.

Keywords: Chemotherapy; Multidrug resistance; Nano-particulate antibody conjugates; Prodrug; Small molecule inhibitors; Targeted therapy.