The ADAMs (a disintegrin and metalloproteinase) comprise a family of multidomain transmembrane and secreted proteins. One of their best-established roles is the release of biologically important ligands, such as tumor necrosis factor-alpha, epidermal growth factor, transforming growth factor-alpha, and amphiregulin. Because these ligands have been implicated in the formation and progression of tumors, it might be expected that the specific ADAMs involved in their release would also be involved in malignancy. Consistent with this hypothesis, emerging data from model systems suggest that ADAMs, such as ADAM-9, ADAM-12, ADAM-15, and ADAM-17, are causally involved in tumor formation/progression. In human cancer, specific ADAMs are up-regulated, with levels generally correlating with parameters of tumor progression and poor outcome. In preclinical models, selective ADAM inhibitors against ADAM-10 and ADAM-17 have been shown to synergize with existing therapies in decreasing tumor growth. The ADAMs are thus a new family of potential targets for the treatment of cancer, especially malignancies that are dependent on human epidermal growth factor receptor ligands or tumor necrosis factor-alpha.
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