News FocusBiomedicine

Does Cancer Therapy Trigger Cell Suicide?

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Science  17 Dec 1999:
Vol. 286, Issue 5448, pp. 2256-2258
DOI: 10.1126/science.286.5448.2256

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The notion that drugs and radiation kill cancer cells by causing them to self-destruct has guided drug searches for the past few years. But some cancer experts aren't convinced that this is the case, at least not for solid tumors such as cancers of the lung, breast, prostate, and colon. They say that the kinds of test tube assays that point to apoptosis, as cell suicide is more technically called, as critical to cancer therapy may not accurately reflect what happens in cancers that have developed naturally in the body. What's more, they argue, using assays based on apoptosis to screen for cancer drugs might cause researchers to miss drugs that kill by other means.