H Maruta (ed)
Published by Academic Press (2002)
ISBN: 0-12-476249-2. 415 pages plus index.
The battle against cancer is entering an exciting new phase, with the development of therapies targeting the underlying genetic defects in an individual patient’s cancer. Tumor-suppressing viruses, genes and drugs is therefore a timely and exciting book covering the many advances in basic cancer research that are directly leading to new therapies. Included are concise reviews of the biology underlying many leading candidate molecules and pathways such as the RAS and TGF-beta pathways. The breadth of material is welcome, covering “older” targets like RAS, p53 and receptor tyrosine kinases but importantly including “newer” targets like integrins, cytoskeletal molecules and specific cell cycle proteins. This emphasis makes the book a handy acquisition for clinical researchers interested in novel therapeutic targets.
Basic cancer researchers interested in the clinical development of new discoveries will also find the material useful. Chapters including functional rescue of p53, integrin antagonists, tyr kinase inhibitors, farnesyltransferease inhibitors, oncolytic viruses, ribozymes, CDK-inhibitors and inhibitors of angiogenesis illustrate strategies to develop therapeutics following the identification of a new target.
The book contains a broad discussion of molecular strategies to modulate the function of target molecules including gene therapy and viruses (with a clear discussion of the challenges in this difficult area by David Kirn), and small molecules.
There are some newer developments that are not covered. In particular, therapies that target transcription such as retinoids, HDAC-inhibitors and other strategies to modulate the function of transcription factors (with the exception of p53) are not discussed. Also, novel approaches to directly target the apoptosis machinery, such as Caspases and BCL-2 family proteins, that are currently under pre-clinical and clinical investigation are not discussed.
Nonetheless, this book will be an excellent acquisition for all those interested in the new field of molecular oncology like basic researchers, clinical researchers and students.