Therapeutic inducers of apoptosis in ovarian cancer

Mudra Binju, Monica Angelica Amaya-Padilla, Graeme Wan, Hendra Gunosewoyo, Yohan Suryo Rahmanto, Yu Yu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Ovarian cancers remain one of the most common causes of gynecologic cancer-related death in women worldwide. The standard treatment comprises platinum-based chemotherapy, and most tumors develop resistance to therapeutic drugs. One mechanism of developing drug resistance is alterations of molecules involved in apoptosis, ultimately assisting in the cells’ capability to evade death. Thus, there is a need to focus on identifying potential drugs that restore apoptosis in cancer cells. Here, we discuss the major inducers of apoptosis mediated through various mechanisms and their usefulness as potential future treatment options for ovarian cancer. Broadly, they can target the apoptotic pathways directly or affect apoptosis indirectly through major cancer-pathways in cells. The direct apoptotic targets include the Bcl-2 family of proteins and the inhibitor of apoptotic proteins (IAPs). However, indirect targets include processes related to homologous recombination DNA repair, micro-RNA, and p53 mutation. Besides, apoptosis inducers may also disturb major pathways converging into apoptotic signals including janus kinase (JAK)/signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3), wingless-related integration site (Wnt)/β-Catenin, mesenchymal-epithelial transition factor (MET)/hepatocyte growth factor (HGF), mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK)/extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK), and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/v-AKT murine thymoma viral oncogene homologue (AKT)/mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathways. Several drugs in our review are undergoing clinical trials, for example, birinapant, DEBIO-1143, Alisertib, and other small molecules are in preclinical investigations showing promising results in combination with chemotherapy. Molecules that exhibit better efficacy in the treatment of chemo-resistant cancer cells are of interest but require more extensive preclinical and clinical evaluation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1786
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2019


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