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Discovery By Research Group At Boston Biomedical Research Institute Opens Doors To New Treatments For The Most Lethal Cancers

2/28/2006 11:46:47 AM

WATERTOWN, Mass., Feb. 27 /PRNewswire/ -- Cancer Research, a top-tier journal that publishes biologically significant findings with relevance to cancer, recently published the findings of Dr. Charles P. Emerson, Jr., a Senior Scientist and Director of the not-for-profit Boston Biomedical Research Institute and Dr. Natalia Riobo, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. The discovery holds promise for identification of new drug targets to treat a group of the most lethal cancers known as Hedgehog cancers.

Drs. Emerson and Riobo's research focuses on understanding a type of cell communication know as Hedgehog signaling. Hedgehog signaling has an essential role in the control of stem cell growth and in the promotion of tumor growth. Excessive activation of the Hedgehog signaling pathway has been observed to be responsible for tumor growth in the most lethal of human cancers, including pancreatic, lung, skin, muscle and digestive tract cancer -- all of which remain largely untreatable. These researchers now show that two kinases, known as PKC-delta and MEK-1, cooperate with Hedgehog signaling to activate GLI transcription factors to regulate key genes that control stem cell and tumor growth.

"Understanding the key components of the Hedgehog signaling pathway, and how mutations in this pathway can lead to the growth of cancer cells, highlights the power of basic science and disease model research to reveal new therapeutic approaches for human disease, which is a hallmark of BBRI research," says BBRI's Director Dr. Charles Emerson. "Our preliminary findings offer tremendous promise for development of preventative and curative treatments for these devastating cancers." The work is being supported by a grant from the National Cancer Institute.

Boston Biomedical Research Institute is a not-for-profit institution dedicated to the understanding, treatment and prevention of specific human diseases including cancer, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer's disease, muscular dystrophy, diabetes and conditions such as obesity and reproductive health problems. For more information visit

Boston Biomedical Research Institute

CONTACT: Terence McGowan, of Boston Biomedical Research Institute,+1-617-658-7707,

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