In cancer, hitting a target called Hedgehog

September 8, 2009

By hammersmith

[Source: NCI] – When new cancer drugs are first tested in people the main goal is to see whether an agent is safe and shows promise. Dramatic responses from patients are rare. So when a closely watched clinical trial published last week showed that patients with untreatable skin cancers had benefited from an experimental drug, it was good news for patients and researchers alike.

The trial was testing a drug designed to block the hedgehog signaling pathway, a cascade of interactions in cells that is essential as embryos develop. The pathway tends to be silent in most adult tissues, but it is switched on improperly in some cancers. A number of companies have experimental hedgehog inhibitors aimed at shutting down this important pathway when it is activated at the wrong time.

For more information: In Cancer, Hitting a Target Called Hedgehog