AG Linkermann

“Trying to prevent clinically relevant cell death“

Ever since Rudolf Virchow has stated that necrosis may represent and uncontrollable clinical burden, the concept of necrosis as a non-regulated process evolved. However, we know today that necrosis can result from genetically determined signalling pathways.

Virchow anticipated that necrosis is a central pathophysiological driver in countless detrimental diseases, such as stroke, myocardial infarction, sepsis, solid tumors, acute hemorrhage, pancreatitis, acute kidney injury, acute liver failure, trauma, rhabdomyolysis and toxicities, just to name the most relevant ones. Therefore, it has been a dream to prevent necrosis pharmacologically in clinical settings. And yes - we belive that this is possible!

Necrosis comes in different flavors, such as kinase-mediated necroptosis, caspase-mediated pyroptosis or lipoxygenase-mediated ferroptosis. Therefore, such enzymes represent novel therapeutic targets. Small molecules may be useful to prevent clinically relevant cell death. However, even larger molecules, such as phenytoin, may carry the potential to prevent clinically relevant necrosis. Click here for a 2017 update on ferroptosis that was recently published in "Cell".