Molecules (2013-10-01)

G-Quadruplexes as Potential Therapeutic Targets for Embryonal Tumors

  • Michael Grotzer,
  • Kazuo Shin-ya,
  • Martin Baumgartner,
  • Tarek Shalaby,
  • Giulio Fiaschetti,
  • Kazuo Nagasawa

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 18, no. 10
pp. 12500 – 12537


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Embryonal tumors include a heterogeneous group of highly malignant neoplasms that primarily affect infants and children and are characterized by a high rate of mortality and treatment-related morbidity, hence improved therapies are clearly needed. G-quadruplexes are special secondary structures adopted in guanine (G)-rich DNA sequences that are often present in biologically important regions, e.g. at the end of telomeres and in the regulatory regions of oncogenes such as MYC. Owing to the significant roles that both telomeres and MYC play in cancer cell biology, G-quadruplexes have been viewed as emerging therapeutic targets in oncology and as tools for novel anticancer drug design. Several compounds that target these structures have shown promising anticancer activity in tumor xenograft models and some of them have entered Phase II clinical trials. In this review we examine approaches to DNA targeted cancer therapy, summarize the recent developments of G-quadruplex ligands as anticancer drugs and speculate on the future direction of such structures as a potential novel therapeutic strategy for embryonal tumors of the nervous system.