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    Activin A is involved in the regulation of a surprisingly broad number of processes that are relevant for cancer development and treatment; it is implicated in cell autonomous functions and multiple regulatory functions in the tumor microenvironment. This article summarizes the current knowledge about activin A in cell growth and death, migration and metastasis, angiogenesis, stemness and drug resistance, regulation of antitumor immunity, and cancer cachexia. We explore the role of activin A as a biomarker and discuss strategies for using it as target for cancer therapy. Literature retrieved from Medline until 25 June 2020 was considered. While many functions of activin A were investigated in preclinical models, there is currently limited experience from clinical trials. Activin A has growth- and migration-promoting effects, contributes to immune evasion and cachexia and is associated with shorter survival in several cancer types. Targeting activin A could offer the chance to simultaneously limit tumor growth and spreading, improve drug response, boost antitumor immune responses and improve cancer-associated or treatment-associated cachexia, bone loss, and anemia. Nevertheless, defining which patients have the highest likelihood of benefiting from these effects is challenging and will require further work.


    Alexander Ries, Karin Schelch, David Falch, Laura Pany, Mir Alireza Hoda, Michael Grusch. Activin A: an emerging target for improving cancer treatment? Expert opinion on therapeutic targets. 2020 Oct;24(10):985-996

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    PMID: 32700590

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