Gastroenterology and Hepatology from Bed to Bench,
27 July 2009
Cell death is a major factor separating healthy physiology from pathology and is rightly the target of considerable attention in the development of new therapies. Most of the effort has been directed at the activation of key effectors of apoptosis and the molecules that regulate this activation. This approach may be valid to address cancer, but otherwise, while efforts are making progress, they miss an important point that addresses cells that die too soon or inappropriately. In these situations, the stress on the cell often derives from an external source, and ultimately this stress must be relieved. If it is not, the cell is still likely to die, though perhaps not by apoptosis. Controlled autophagy, in which specific organelles are removed, begins to give us clues by which we may learn to understand how organelles are targeted.