Journal Article

Targeting survivin in cancer therapy: fulfilled promises and open questions

Marzia Pennati, Marco Folini and Nadia Zaffaroni

in Carcinogenesis

Volume 28, issue 6, pages 1133-1139
Published in print June 2007 | ISSN: 0143-3334
Published online March 2007 | e-ISSN: 1460-2180 | DOI:
Targeting survivin in cancer therapy: fulfilled promises and open questions

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  • Clinical Cytogenetics and Molecular Genetics


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Survivin is a bifunctional protein that acts as a suppressor of apoptosis and plays a central role in cell division. The protein is strongly expressed in the most common human neoplasms, has prognostic relevance for some of them and appears to be involved in tumor cell resistance to anticancer agents and ionizing radiation. On the basis of these findings, survivin has been proposed as an attractive target for new anticancer interventions. Several preclinical studies have demonstrated that down-regulation of survivin expression or function, accomplished by means of various strategies, reduced tumor growth potential, increased the apoptotic rate and sensitized tumor cells to chemotherapeutic drugs and radiation in different human tumor models. Moreover, the first survivin inhibitors recently entered clinical trials. Recent studies suggest a possible role for survivin in regulating the function of normal adult cells. However, the expression and function of survivin in normal tissues are still not well characterized and understood. Better knowledge of the role of survivin in tumor versus normal cells will be instrumental for the design of optimal strategies to selectively disrupt survivin in cancer.

Journal Article.  6480 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Clinical Cytogenetics and Molecular Genetics

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