Targeting ion transport in cancer

E. Oosterwijk, R. J. Gillies

Abstract

The metabolism of cancer cells differs substantially from normal cells, including ion transport. Although this phenomenon has been long recognized, ion transporters have not been viewed as suitable therapeutic targets. However, the acidic pH values present in tumours which are well outside of normal limits are now becoming recognized as an important therapeutic target. Carbonic anhydrase IX (CAIX) is fundamental to tumour pH regulation. CAIX is commonly expressed in cancer, but lowly expressed in normal tissues and that presents an attractive target. Here, we discuss the possibilities of exploiting the acidic, hypoxic tumour environment as possible target for therapy. Additionally, clinical experience with CAIX targeting in cancer patients is discussed.

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