Priming Cancer Cells for Death

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Science  25 Nov 2011:
Vol. 334, Issue 6059, pp. 1075-1076
DOI: 10.1126/science.1215568

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Most patients with leukemia or disseminated cancer are treated with cytotoxic chemotherapeutic drugs that arrest malignant cell proliferation. These compounds may also kill cancer cells, but why this happens in some types of cancers but not others has not been clear. On page 1129 of this issue, Ni Chonghaile et al. (1) indicate a critical role for mitochondria-initiated cell death mechanisms controlled by Bcl-2 family proteins in dictating whether patients respond to cytotoxic anticancer drugs.