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Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide, with a limited cure rate and late diagnosis for certain types of cancer (e.g. pancreatic cancer). As this disease presents an enormous challenge for scientists, new paradigms in oncology are needed to defeat this serious disease. Currently, several peptide drugs are investigated for their preventive, diagnostic and therapeutic properties in oncology, with already 15 peptide drugs marketed for cancer therapy. However, we suggest that quorum-sensing peptide agonists and antagonists can be used in oncology as well, resulting in a larger potential peptide space. This hypothesis is based on (1) the recent evidence of prokaryote-eukaryote signalling by the use of quorum-sensing signalling molecules, (2) the apoptotic phenomenon seen in bacteria, (3) the clear similarities between the bacterial quorum-sensing mechanisms and the metastatic process tumor cells initiate, (4) the multiple receptor targeting and (5) the possibility of pharmacologic manipulation of peptides, resulting in increased receptor targeting. Up till now, however, the use of quorum-sensing signalling peptides in oncology has not yet been investigated, despite the urgent need for new insights in oncology and the promising perspectives. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


E Wynendaele, E Pauwels, C Van de Wiele, C Burvenich, B De Spiegeleer. The potential role of quorum-sensing peptides in oncology. Medical hypotheses. 2012 Jun;78(6):814-7

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PMID: 22513236

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