The effectiveness of a new group of cancer drugs could be increased by targeting one of an important family of proteins, according to a study reported in the journal Cancer Cell.
Scientists already know that silencing the HSP90 protein stops tumours growing. They have now found that inhibiting another protein in the same family – HSP70 – can help HSP90 inhibitors while also killing off tumour cells very effectively.
Their findings suggest that new drugs that inhibit HSP70 could be used either on their own or in combination with HSP90 inhibitors to provide more effective treatments.
They studied the effects in bowel and ovarian cancer cells, and found that knocking out two particular proteins – HSC70 and HSP72 – caused cell death only in cancer cells.
Professor Paul Workman, at the Cancer Research UK Centre for Cancer Therapeutics at The Institute of Cancer Research in Sutton, said: “Not only can knocking out both HSC70 and HSP72 eliminate cancer-causing proteins, it can kill cancer cells much more effectively than normal cells.
“We hope that in the future, drugs can be designed to inhibit the HSP70 proteins, following on from those that already block HSP90, to stop tumour growth and kill off cancer cells.”
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