K M Foidart, R J Muschel (eds)
Proteases and Their Inhibitors in Cancer Metastasis is volume 4 in the series “Cancer Metastasis – Biology and Treatment”. The book is a collection of 12 chapters on proteases and the role they play in cancer metastasis. The chapters are mini reviews and are of 10 – 30 pages in length.
The book was published in 2002 and as such the reviews only cover material up to that date. The advances in this field of research are moving forward at a rapid rate and a new edition would see many more chapters covering greater areas. This comment is not meant as a criticism of this well put together book.
The majority of the book is mainly devoted to the study of matrix metalloproteases, as well as serine proteases and heparinases. A comprehensive description of the biology of these proteases is given along with the changes that occur as the cell becomes cancerous. One chapter is devoted to the use of tissue models used to study tumour-stroma interactions.
Some of the highlights of the book include the chapter on tissue models, as it relates the use of such models to examine metastasis under in vitro conditions. Similarly the study on matrix metalloprotease inhibitors highlights the problems in designing specific inhibitors for the different family members (at last count more than 25 have been identified).
The role of TIMPs (tissue inhibitors of metalloproteases) in metastasis is evaluated and its possible role in therapy is discussed. Angiogenesis plays an important role during the metastatic process, and the role of heparinases and serpins in this process are covered comprehensively in three chapters.
All the review chapters are short and succinct and contain a wealth of information on the topic they cover. All chapters have extensive reference lists, which will be of great assistance to those working in the field or about to enter. The diagrams are also clear, concise and easy to follow and explain some of the protease signalling pathways and gene sequences, as well as protease inhibitor structures.
As mentioned earlier, until a new treatise is written on proteases in cancer metastasis, this book will be a useful addition to the library for those researchers who are working in this area. It would be a useful reference for students as well, but not for clinicians as most of the results presented are at the preclinical stage.