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The Importance of c-Kit and PDGF Receptors as Potential Targets for Molecular Therapy in Breast Cancer

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Molecular therapies target key functional molecules in order to halter viable operation of cancer cells. Receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) constitute attractive targets, as quite often their abnormal signaling has been associated with tumor development and growth. Overexpression of growth factor receptors, including IGF, EGF, TGF-α, SCF and PDGF receptors, has been associated with poor prognosis in breast cancer. Therefore, a number of RTKs are already targets for novel designed drugs, which involve tyrosine kinase inhibitors and monoclonal antibodies. Despite the fact that c-Kit and PDGF-R have been effective targets in a number of cancers, the experimental results in breast have not yet clarified their importance. The expression and function of c-Kit in breast cancer is a quite controversial subject. Several studies propose that the loss of c-Kit expression has been associated with tumor progress, whereas other reports indicate not only its expression but also the implication of c-Kit in breast cancer. On the other hand, the expression of PDGF-R in breast cancer is not in question. A number of inhibitors against tyrosine kinases are currently in trials as to demonstrate their importance in breast cancer treatment. Imatinib (STI571), which is a selective tyrosine kinase inhibitor and particularly of c-Kit and PDGF-R, exhibited encouraging results in respect to its inhibitory effect in cell growth and invasion potential in a panel of human breast cancer cell lines. In this review, the importance of RTKs in human cancer and of c-Kit and PDGF-R as molecular targets in breast cancer treatment, in the view of their expression profiles and the in vitro effects of STI571 is discussed.

Keywords: PDGF receptor; breast cancer; c-Kit; molecular therapy; tyrosine kinases

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Chemistry, University of Patras, 261 10 Patras, Greece.

Publication date: March 1, 2007

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  • Current Medicinal Chemistry covers all the latest and outstanding developments in medicinal chemistry and rational drug design. Each issue contains a series of timely in-depth reviews written by leaders in the field covering a range of the current topics in medicinal chemistry. Current Medicinal Chemistry is an essential journal for every medicinal chemist who wishes to be kept informed and up-to-date with the latest and most important developments.

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