Dominic D.G. Owens, Matthew E.R. Maitland, Cheryl H. Arrowsmith, Dalia Barsyte-Lovejoy

Therapeutic Discovery for Chromatin Complexes: Where Do We Stand?

  • Cancer Research
  • Cell Biology
  • Oncology

In this review, we explore the current landscape of preclinical and clinical therapeutics targeting epigenetic complexes in cancer, focusing on targets with enzymatic inhibitors, degraders, or ligands capable of disrupting protein–protein interactions. Current strategies face challenges such as limited single-agent clinical efficacy due to insufficient disruption of chromatin complexes and incomplete dissociation from chromatin. Further complications arise from the adaptability of cancer cell chromatin and, in some cases, dose-limiting toxicity. The advent of targeted protein degradation (TPD) through degrader compounds such as proteolysis-targeting chimeras provides a promising approach. These innovative molecules exploit the endogenous ubiquitin–proteasome system to catalytically degrade target proteins and disrupt complexes, potentially amplifying the efficacy of existing epigenetic binders. We highlight the status of TPD-harnessing moieties in clinical and preclinical development, as these compounds may prove crucial for unlocking the potential of epigenetic complex modulation in cancer therapeutics. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Cancer Biology, Volume 8 is April 2024. Please see for revised estimates.

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