Histone deacetylases (HDACs) can regulate expression of tumor suppressor genes and activities of transcriptional factors involved in both cancer initiation and progression through alteration of either DNA or the structural components of chromatin. Recently, the role of gene repression through modulation such as acetylation in cancer patients has been clinically validated with several inhibitors of HDACs. One of the HDAC inhibitors, vorinostat, has been approved by FDA for treating cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL) for patients with progressive, persistent, or recurrent disease on or following two systemic therapies. Other inhibitors, for example, FK228, PXD101, PCI-24781, ITF2357, MGCD0103, MS-275, valproic acid and LBH589 have also demonstrated therapeutic potential as monotherapy or combination with other anti-tumor drugs in CTCL and other malignancies. At least 80 clinical trials are underway, testing more than eleven different HDAC inhibitory agents including both hematological and solid malignancies. This review focuses on recent development in clinical trials testing HDAC inhibitors as anti-tumor agents.
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