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Use of Anti-Cancer Drugs, Mitocans, to Enhance the Immune Responses against Tumors

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Cytotoxic drugs in cancer therapy are used with the expectation of selectively killing and thereby eliminating the offending cancer cells. If they should die in an appropriate manner, the cells can also release danger signals that promote an immune reaction that reinforces the response against the cancer. The identity of these immune-enhancing danger signals, how they work extra- and intracellularly, and the molecular mechanisms by which some anti-cancer drugs induce cell death to bring about the release of danger signals are the major focus of this review. A specific group of mitocans, the vitamin E analogs that act by targeting mitochondria to drive ROS production and also promote a more immunogenic means of cancer cell death exemplify such anti-cancer drugs. The role of reactive oxygen species (ROS) production and the events leading to the activation of the inflammasome and pro-inflammatory mediators induced by dying cancer cell mitochondria are discussed along with the evidence for their contribution to promoting immune responses against cancer. Current knowledge of how the danger signals interact with immune cells to boost the anti-tumor response is also evaluated.
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Keywords: Mitocans; cancer therapy; immunotherapy; inflammasome; mitochondria; reactive oxygen species

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2013

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  • Current Pharmaceutical Biotechnology aims to cover all the latest and outstanding developments in Pharmaceutical Biotechnology. Each issue of the journal contains a series of timely in-depth reviews written by leaders in the field covering a range of current topics in both pre-clinical and clinical areas of Pharmaceutical Biotechnology. Current Pharmaceutical Biotechnology is an essential journal for academic, clinical, government and pharmaceutical scientists who wish to be kept informed and up-to-date with the latest and most important developments.
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