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New directions in testicular cancer; molecular determinants of oncogenesis and treatment success

Jones, Robert H. and Vasey, P. A. 2003. New directions in testicular cancer; molecular determinants of oncogenesis and treatment success. European Journal of Cancer 39 (2) , pp. 147-156. 10.1016/S0959-8049(02)00612-3

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Metastatic testicular cancer is highly curable with conventional cytotoxic drugs. This is in contrast to most other metastatic solid tumours which can only be palliated with chemotherapy achieving only a modest impact on overall survival. If we could understand at the molecular level why chemotherapy is so effective in the treatment of testicular cancer, we may be better able to move other forms of metastatic cancer into the curable bracket. Most cytotoxic drugs appear to induce cell death by activating intracellular apoptotic mechanisms. Thus, the ability of a cancer to activate and execute such mechanisms in response to treatment is paramount in determining the effectiveness of chemotherapy. The basic study of cancer molecular biology is providing some insight into the proteins involved in this process and the ability to apply this information to actual human tumours is essential to rationalise clinical treatment failures at a molecular level. Testicular cancer provides an excellent model system in this analysis. Whereas there are large numbers of patients that are cured by chemotherapy, there are some whose cancers become resistant to treatment. An understanding of testicular cancer molecular biology may allow the identification of the genes regulating such a crucial behavioural switch. It may then be possible to manipulate specific signalling pathways to overcome drug resistance. This review focuses on recent developments in our understanding of the molecular biology of testicular cancer. A number of key players have been implicated including p53, pRb, cyclin D2, p INK proteins, c-kit and the bcl-2 family of proteins. The exact manner by which cellular transformation occurs has still not been established, but it is clear that many of the above proteins also have important roles in normal spermatogenesis. This is a developmental phase when the generation of genetic diversity is at a premium, but when selective apoptotic mechanisms are paramount. We discuss why this may be relevant to the behaviour of germ cell tumours and address possible reasons why they can become resistant to conventional therapy.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history > QH426 Genetics
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0254 Neoplasms. Tumors. Oncology (including Cancer)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Seminoma; Teratoma; Apoptosis; Chemo-sensitivity; p53; bcl-2; Cyclin; Retinoblastoma
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0959-8049
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 07:52

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