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The ADAMs: signalling scissors in the tumour microenvironment.


Over the last few years disintegrin metalloproteinases of the Adam (a disintegrin and metalloproteinase) family have been associated with the process of proteolytic 'shedding' of membrane-associated proteins and hence the rapid modulation of key cell signalling pathways in the tumour microenvironment. Furthermore, numerous members of the Adam family have been associated with tumorigenesis and tumour progression. The question now arises of whether pharmacological manipulation of their functions would be a useful adjunct to therapies targeting intercellular communications. To learn from the lessons of matrix metalloproteinase inhibitors as anticancer agents, there are many facets of the biological and clinical relevance of the ADAMs that need to be understood before embarking with confidence on such an approach.