Novel approaches to cancer therapy. Modulators of the antiangiogenetic process and apoptotic drugs from natural and synthetic sources capable to inhibit microtubule dynamics.
Apoptosis is the process of programmed cell death or cell suicide and is an essential counterbalance to cellular proliferation. Cells die in response to a variety of stimuli and during apoptosis they do so in a controlled, regulated fashion. Apoptosis is a fundamental event for a normal growth and homeostasis of multicellular organisms. This natural regulatory program for suicide exists in all cells including cancer cells and may prove extremely valuable in fighting the disease. Under normal conditions, apoptosis serves to eliminate damaged or unneeded cells from the organism. However, in cancer cells, this self-regulation program is silenced, allowing tumors to survive and grow. Apoptosis of cancer cells may be induced by specific interference with cytoskeleton components such as the mitochondrial tubuline blocking cell cycle progression during mitosis at the metaphase/anaphase transition.
Angiogenesis. The discovery that the growth and spread of tumors are dependent on angiogenesis has created new avenues of research designed to help us to better understand cancer biology and to facilitate and promote the development of new therapeutic strategies. Angiogenesis consists of multiple, sequential and interdependent processes with a number of positive and negative regulators being involved. Hyperactive angiogenesis may promote and sustain the proliferation of new vessels during the growth and diffusion of neoplasias and the survival of tumors and their metastases are dependent upon the balance of endogenous angiogenic and antiangiogenic factors.