Apoptotic Pathways in Tumor Progression and Therapy

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Apoptosis is a cell suicide program that plays a critical role in development and tissue homeostasis. The ability of cancer cells to evade this programmed cell death (PCD) is a major characteristic that enables their uncontrolled growth. The efficiency of chemotherapy in killing such cells depends on the successful induction of apoptosis, since defects in apoptosis signaling are a major cause of drug resistance. Over the past decades, much progress has been made in our understanding of apoptotic signaling pathways and their dysregulation in cancer progression and therapy. These advances have provided new molecular targets for proapoptotic cancer therapies that have recently been used in drug development. While most of those therapies are still at the preclinical stage, some of them have shown much promise in the clinic. Here, we review our current knowledge of apoptosis regulation in cancer progression and therapy, as well as the new molecular targeted molecules that are being developed to reinstate cancer cell death.