ANTI-ADHESION Evolves To a Promising Therapeutic Concept in Oncology

Current Medicinal Chemistry. 2008;15(9):978-90. [Link]

Schmidmaier R, Baumann P.

Klinikum der Universität München, Medizinische Klinik Innenstadt, Abteilung Hämatologie und Onkologie, Ziemssenstr. 1, D-80336 München, Germany.


Adhesion is a hallmark of haematological and solid cancer cells. All five classes of cell adhesion molecules (CAM) – integrins, cadherins, immunoglobulin-like CAMs, selectins and CD44s – are characteristically dysregulated in human cancer. Adhesion enables and promotes cancer-defining biological processes like growth, survival, migration, extravasation, homing, and metastasis. Furthermore, cell adhesion mediates drug resistance (CAM-DR) in multiple myeloma, malignant lymphoma, acute and chronic leukaemias, as well as in pancreatic cancer, neuroblastoma, small cell and non-small cell lung cancer, mesothelioma, colorectal carcinoma, and breast cancer. Cell adhesion protects from death by radiation, genotoxic chemotherapy, or targeted pathway inhibitors. Adhesion molecules are overexpressed on drug resistant cells (e.g. multiple myeloma or prostate cancer). Very recently, several cell adhesion mediated survival pathways have been elucidated, with key mediators being LFA-1, VLA-4, FAK, ILK, Src, PI3K, Akt, Ras, MEK, Erk, HMG-CoA reductase, Rho, Rho kinase, PKC, and NFkB. Because the surface and the intracellular targets are now known and because specific compounds are becoming increasingly available, first clinical trials regarding ANTI-ADHESION therapies are ongoing. However, in comparison to the comprehensive preclinical and clinical knowledge about CAMs, the number of drugs developed thus far is quite low. ANTI-ADHESION strategies include targeting of surface antigens, inhibition of cell adhesion associated pathways, inhibition of CAM-DR, and targeted drug delivery. As ANTI-ADHESION is based on general characteristics of cancer cells independent of specific disease entities or treatment modalities, it may become a successful, low-toxic and broadly applicable concept in cancer treatment.