Recent studies have shown that members of the inhibitor of apoptosis (IAP) protein family are highly expressed in several classes of cancer. The primary implication of these findings is that the elevated expression of IAPs is not coincidental but actually participates in oncogenesis by helping to allow the malignant cell to avoid apoptoric cell death. TMs concept, together with the discovery of several IAP-regulatory proteins that use a conserved mode of action, has stimulated a major effort by many research gronaps to devise IAP-targering strategies as a means of developing novel antineoplastic drugs. In this Review, we consider the evidence both for and against the IAPs being valid therapeutic targets, and we describe the types of strategies being used to neutralize their functions.
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