Recent advances in our understanding of highly conserved mechanisms that control cell fate determination are paving the way towards rationally designed biologics that modulate specific cell fate decisions. Cell fate decisions leading to proliferation, differentiation or apoptosis are crucial elements in the pathogenesis of countless human diseases. Biopharmaceuticals designed to regulate such processes in specific cell types in vivo or ex vivo have vast potential applications in oncology, stem cell technology, immunomodulation and neuropathology. One of the most conserved mechanisms controlling cell fate determination is based upon Notch-ligand interactions and subsequent signaling events. Recent studies have shown that this mechanism regulates cell differentiation, proliferation and apoptosis in a wide variety of cell maturation processes and in neoplastic cells. These observations identify the Notch signaling network as a promising drug target for numerous indications. In this review, we describe 1 ) potential drug targets in the Notch signaling network 2) the Notch agonists and antagonists developed so far, including recombinant proteins, antibody-based agents, synthetic peptides, antisense oligonucleotides and gene therapy approaches, as well as possible strategies to design novel Notch-targeting biopharmaceuticals 3) the possible clinical applications of such biopharmaceuticals and 4) a model strategy for the selection and developement of a Notch-targeting biopharmaceutical.
Keywords: Cell fate modifiers, Notch, Signaling, Novel Biopharmaceuticals, Notch agonists, Drug targets
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