The progress made in cancer biology, genetics and biotechnology has led to a major transition in cancer drug design and development, from an emphasis on non-specific, cytotoxic agents to specific, molecular-targeted smart cancer drugs. Many of these targeted agents have shown to have improved selectivity for cancer versus normal cells and are associated with better anti-tumor efficacy and lower toxicity. The new generation of anti-cancer drugs requires low concentrations and minimizes unwanted side effects. Their use leads to enhanced anti-cancer effects and to a reduction of chemotherapy resistance. Still, resistance to common chemotherapeutic agents is a major obstacle in cancer treatment. Silencing of cancer-relevant genes is a challenging strategy to reduce resistance and to sensitize cancer cells towards anti-neoplastic agents. Resistance can be an intrinsic problem of the tumor or can be acquired during the life time of the tumor. A fascinating species of anti-cancer drugs include antisense oligonucleotides (ASOs) or small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) which are able to specifically down-regulate the expression of the target genes. The combination of nucleic acid-based agents with antineoplastic drugs can induce synergistic induction of cell cycle arrest, apoptosis and reduced cell proliferation in vitro or tumor growth in vivo. These two strategies (ASOs and siRNAs) will help to improve current therapeutic regimens. In addition, the combination of targeted drugs with common chemotherapeutic agents might be able to make resistant cells again sensitive towards a chemotherapeutic agent.
Keywords: Anti-neoplastic drugs, antisense oligonucleotides, small interfering RNA, chemosensitivity, resistance
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