Scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have found that the absence of two proteins cells use to cope with heat stress can make it easier for the cells to become cancerous, but that same absence also makes it harder for cancerous cells to survive exposure to heat and radiation.
The findings mark the two proteins, Heat shock protein (Hsp) 70.1 and 70.3, as potential targets for gene therapy that could increase cancer cells vulnerability to treatments.
"This is the first time weve linked these proteins to the cancer cells response to ionizing radiation," says Tej Pandita, Ph.D., assistant professor of radiation oncology and lead investigator of the new study. "Understanding the pathobiology of the genes that make these proteins -- how they function in normal circumstances and how they work in an unusual context like the cancer cell -- will help radiation oncologists devise gene therapy protocols that enhance cell kill from radiation treatments."
Michael C. Purdy | WUSTL School of Medicine
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