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Targeting The Redox Landscape In Cancer Therapy

Dilip Narayanan, Sana Ma, Dennis Özcelik

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Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are produced predominantly by the mitochondrial electron transport chain and by NADPH oxidases in peroxisomes and in the endoplasmic reticulum. The antioxidative defense counters overproduction of ROS with detoxifying enzymes and molecular scavengers, for instance, superoxide dismutase and glutathione, in order to restore redox homeostasis. Mutations in the redox landscape can induce carcinogenesis, whereas increased ROS production can perpetuate cancer development. Moreover, cancer cells can increase production of antioxidants, leading to resistance against chemo- or radiotherapy. Research has been developing pharmaceuticals to target the redox landscape in cancer. For instance, inhibition of key players in the redox landscape aims to modulate ROS production in order to prevent tumor development or to sensitize cancer cells in radiotherapy. Besides the redox landscape of a single cell, alternative strategies take aim at the multi-cellular level. Extracellular vesicles, such as exosomes, are crucial for the development of the hypoxic tumor microenvironment, and hence are explored as target and as drug delivery systems in cancer therapy. This review summarizes the current pharmaceutical and experimental interventions of the cancer redox landscape.