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The Urokinase Receptor (uPAR) as a "Trojan Horse" in Targeted Cancer Therapy: Challenges and Opportunities

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One of the largest challenges to the implementation of precision oncology is identifying and validating selective tumor-driving targets to enhance the therapeutic efficacy while limiting off-target toxicity. In this context, the urokinase-type plasminogen activator receptor (uPAR) has progressively emerged as a promising therapeutic target in the management of aggressive malignancies. By focalizing the plasminogen activation cascade and subsequent extracellular proteolysis on the cell surface of migrating cells, uPAR endows malignant cells with a high proteolytic and migratory potential to dissolve the restraining extracellular matrix (ECM) barriers and metastasize to distant sites. uPAR is also assumed to choreograph multiple other neoplastic stages via a complex molecular interplay with distinct cancer-associated signaling pathways. Accordingly, high uPAR expression is observed in virtually all human cancers and is frequently associated with poor patient prognosis and survival. The promising therapeutic potential unveiled by the pleiotropic nature of this receptor has prompted the development of distinct targeted intervention strategies. The present review will focus on recently emerged cytotoxic approaches emphasizing the novel technologies and related limits hindering their application in the clinical setting. Finally, future research directions and emerging opportunities in the field of uPAR targeting are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5376
Issue number21
Publication statusPublished - 27 Oct 2021

    Research areas

  • Cytotoxic approaches, Targeted therapy, Theranostics, Translational research, Urokinase plasminogen activator receptor (uPAR)

ID: 69168647