National Academy of Sciences Publishes Cancer Findings Of Boston Biomedical Research Institute

Published: Mar 13, 2006

WATERTOWN, Mass., March 13 /PRNewswire/ -- Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), one of the world's most frequently cited multidisciplinary scientific periodicals, has published the findings of Dr. Charles P. Emerson, Jr., Ph.D., Senior Scientist and Director, Xingbin Ai, Ph.D. and Ke Lu, M.S. of the not-for-profit Boston Biomedical Research Institute (BBRI) and Dr. Natalia Riobo, a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. In this innovative study, Dr. Emerson and his colleagues highlight new potential targets for the therapeutic intervention of a diverse range of human cancers by describing a novel synergistic association between two important cellular signaling pathways.

This research focuses on characterizing a form of cellular communication known as Hedgehog signaling. The Hedgehog signaling pathway is activated when Sonic Hedgehog, a well known signaling molecule, binds to its receptor Patched, ultimately leading to the activation of a family of transcription factors known as Glis (Gli1, Gli2, and Gli3). Normally this pathway regulates fundamental developmental processes such as embryonic tissue patterning and stem cell maintenance. However, inappropriate Hedgehog signaling is causal in a number of important human cancers, including pancreatic, lung, prostate, skin, muscle, and digestive tract cancer -- all of which remain largely untreatable.

"Understanding the key components of the Hedgehog signaling pathway and how it is associated with other cellular signaling pathways is crucial for the development of novel therapeutic approaches to treat this devastating group of cancers. These preliminary findings offer great promise for the development of preventative and curative treatments by identifying new therapeutic targets," said Dr. Emerson. This work was supported by a National Cancer Institute grant.

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


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

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