Small molecule compounds targeting the p53 pathway: Are we finally making progress?

Xin Yu, Sumana Narayanan, Alexei Vazquez, Darren R. Carpizo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Loss of function of p53, either through mutations in the gene or through mutations to other members of the pathway that inactivate wild-type p53, remains a critically important aspect of human cancer development. As such, p53 remains the most commonly mutated gene in human cancer. For these reasons, pharmacologic activation of the p53 pathway has been a highly sought after, yet unachieved goal in developmental therapeutics. Recently progress has been made not only in the discovery of small molecules that target wild-type and mutant p53, but also in the initiation and completion of the first in-human clinical trials for several of these drugs. Here, we review the current literature of drugs that target wild-type and mutant p53 with a focus on small-molecule type compounds. We discuss common means of drug discovery and group them according to their common mechanisms of action. Lastly, we review the current status of the various drugs in the development process and identify newer areas of p53 tumor biology that may prove therapeutically useful.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1055-1068
Number of pages14
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology
  • Biochemistry, medical
  • Cancer Research


  • Mutant
  • Reactivation
  • Small molecule compound
  • Wild-type
  • p53

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