The impact of CDK inhibition in human malignancies associated with pronounced defects in apoptosis: advantages of multi-targeting small molecules

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Malignant cells in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and related diseases are heterogeneous and consist primarily of long-lived resting cells in the periphery and a minor subset of dividing cells in proliferating centers. Both cell populations have different molecular signatures that play a major role in determining their sensitivity to therapy. Contemporary approaches to treating CLL are heavily reliant on cytotoxic chemotherapeutics. However, none of the current treatment regimens can be considered curative. Pharmacological CDK inhibitors have extended the repertoire of potential drugs for CLL. Multi-targeted CDK inhibitors affect CDKs involved in regulating both cell cycle progression and transcription. Their interference with transcriptional elongation represses anti-apoptotic proteins and, thus, promotes the induction of apoptosis. Importantly, there is evidence that treatment with CDK inhibitors can overcome resistance to therapy. The pharmacological CDK inhibitors have great potential for use in combination with other therapeutics and represent promising tools for the development of new curative treatments for CLL.

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