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Ancient mechanism for coping with stresses also gives cancer a boost
Date:9/20/2007

ls, but not the normal cells, were strongly affected by HSF1's inhibition. Those findings led them to conclude that "HSF1 function helps to maintain the growth and survival of human cancer cells with diverse underlying malignant defects."

The results may have therapeutic implications, the researcher said, as an expanding array of small, drug-like compounds with potent effects on HSF1 are now becoming available. Indeed, drugs that ramp up the heat-shock response are being explored for treating ischemic injury and neurodegenerative diseases, including Huntington's and Parkinson's diseases.

The new findings raise concern that such therapies might increase the risk of cancer, Lindquist said. On the other hand, treatments designed to block HSF1 might "provide a multifaceted and broadly effective cancer chemopreventative as well as chemotherapeutic strategy."

The results also point to the delicate balance between aging, longevity, and cancer risk, she added.

"Strikingly, our data now make clear that HSF1 plays opposite roles in the complex diseases that plague aging populations," she said. "It powerfully potentiates the development of cancers. But it has also been implicated in protection against ischemia/re-perfusion injury, neurodegenerative disorders and in other broad-ranging physiological processes affecting lifespan. We are poised on the balance between aging and degeneration [on one side] and the active, youthful cell growth, [which can lead to cancer], on the other. If we pay more attention and learn how to manipulate these systems properly, we could have a huge impact on human disease."


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Contact: Nancy Wampler
nwampler@cell.com
617-386-2121
Cell Press
Source:Eurekalert

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