Author(s): Gallagher WM, Brown R
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Abstract Nearly twenty years after the initial discovery of p53, we are now in an ideal position to exploit our vast knowledge of p53 biology in the creation of novel cancer therapies. Disruption of p53 function through mutation, or other means, occurs very frequently in human cancer. Loss of p53 function has been linked with unfavourable prognosis in a large number of tumour types, as indicated by more aggressive tumours, early metastasis and decreased survival rates. Many different avenues of research have converged upon p53 to highlight this protein as being one of the foremost cellular responders to stress, in particular to DNA damage. Huge advances have been made in understanding the complex role p53 plays in the regulation of apoptosis and cell cycle arrest. This review is not meant to be a comprehensive description of p53 biology, but rather serves to highlight current progress in the development of p53-oriented cancer therapies. These may be categorised into three basic strategies: gene replacement therapy using wild-type p53, restoration of p53 function by other means and, finally, targeting of the p53 dysfunction itself. Rapid progress is expected to be made regarding the identification of conventional pharmaceutical agents which either work in a p53-independent manner or act preferentially in p53 defective cells. Gene replacement therapy with wild-type p53 also holds considerable potential for obtaining clinically relevant results quickly. The other forms of cancer therapies based around p53 are much further behind in the developmental process, but may prove to more efficacious in the long run, especially in terms of specificity. As with many other fields, the innovation of successful p53-oriented cancer therapies is only limited by our understanding of p53 biology and the creative use of such knowledge.
This article was published in Ann Oncol
and referenced in Biochemistry & Physiology: Open Access