Introduction: BCL-2 proteins are key players in the balance of cell life and death. Their roles in the development and biology of cancer have been well established and continue to be investigated. Understanding the mechanisms by which these proteins regulate apoptosis has led to the development of small molecule targeted therapies that act to overcome the cell’s ability to evade programmed cell death. Areas covered: The biology of the intrinsic apoptotic pathway is reviewed with attention to the varied roles of the anti-apoptotic members of the BCL-2 family. BH3 profiling is reviewed. Historical therapeutic agents are addressed, and currently investigated BH3 mimetics are described with attention to clinical significance. The limitations of BCL-2 family targeted drugs with regard to on-target and off-target toxicities are explored. Agents under development for targeting MCL-1 and other BCL-2 family members are discussed. Expert opinion: ABT-199 (venetoclax) and other BH3 mimetics have entered the clinical arena and show promising results in both hematologic and solid malignancies. Use of agents targeting this system will likely expand, and likely a number of malignant diseases will be successfully targeted resulting in improved treatment responses and patient survival.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pharmacology (medical)