Hitting Cancer Where it's Weak

Cancer protection removed with HSP90 inhibitors

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Cancer develops in a struggle between the normal genes that keep your cells healthy, and other genes that developing cancer cells misuse to protect themselves.

One of the proteins that is highly developed in cancer cells is called HSP90, which can cause resistance to chemotherapy by protecting drug targets.

HSP90, for example, protects a target known as migration inhibitory factor (MIF) in breast cancer, and another molecular target in leukemias referred to as JAK2.

"Ask your oncologist about clinical trials available to you."

In a very clever laboratory experiment, team from the University of Göttingen in Germany found a way to attack HSP90, leaving the cancer vulnerable to chemotherapy drugs. In this experiment, once HSP90 was taken out of the equation, cancer growth was slowed in breast tumors in mice.

This class of drug is being called an HSP90 inhibitor.

Another team from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston showed that this new drug slows the progression of leukemias in mice as well. Raw data from these studies was not provided.

Both studies referred to HSP90 as a promising target worthy of future study for chemotherapy resistant cancers. 

This research could lead to very successful combination therapies in the future, although no plans for clinical trials in cancer patients have been announced yet.

Results were published in January's Journal of Experimental Medicine.

No conflicts of interests were disclosed by either research team.

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Review Date: 
February 2, 2012
Last Updated:
February 5, 2012