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BCL-2 As Therapeutic Target For Hematological Malignancies

G. Perini, G. Ribeiro, J. V. Pinto Neto, L. T. Campos, N. Hamerschlak
Published 2018 · Medicine

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Disruption of the physiologic balance between cell proliferation and cell death is an important step of cancer development. Increased resistance to apoptosis is a key oncogenic mechanism in several hematological malignancies and, in many cases, especially in lymphoid neoplasias, has been attributed to the upregulation of BCL-2. The BCL-2 protein is the founding member of the BCL-2 family of apoptosis regulators and was the first apoptosis modulator to be associated with cancer. The recognition of the important role played by BCL-2 for cancer development and resistance to treatment made it a relevant target for therapy for many diseases, including solid tumors and hematological neoplasias. Among the different strategies that have been developed to inhibit BCL-2, BH3-mimetics have emerged as a novel class of compounds with favorable results in different clinical settings, including chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). In April 2016, the first inhibitor of BCL-2, venetoclax, was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of patients with CLL who have 17p deletion and had received at least one prior therapy. This review focuses on the relevance of BCL-2 for apoptosis modulation at the mitochondrial level, its potential as therapeutic target for hematological malignancies, and the results obtained with selective inhibitors belonging to the BH3-mimetics, especially venetoclax used in monotherapy or in combination with other agents.
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