Histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors constitute a novel and growing class of anticancer agents that function by altering intracellular patterns of histone acetylation, the so-called epigenetic “histone code,” thereby producing changes in cell cycle arrest, differentiation, and/or apoptosis in tumor cells. This overview describes the chemistry and preliminary characterization of recently disclosed molecules in three major classes of HDAC inhibitors: hydroxamic acids, 2-aminobenzanilides, and cyclic peptides. In addition, results from recent clinical trials on isotype-selective HDAC inhibitors are reviewed. It is clear from the plethora of new molecules and the encouraging results from clinical trials that HDAC inhibitors hold a great deal of promise, particularly as add-on therapy, for the treatment of a variety of solid and hematologic cancers.
Keywords: Acetylation, antineoplastic agent, clinical trials, histone deacetylases, histones, apoptosis, cell-cycle arrest
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