Experimental breast cancer drug could help patients with T-ALL too
This is the sort of early research in the lab that we kept coming across whilst we were looking for something new for Lewis. There's a lot of work going on that we hope to be involved in supporting.
In mouse models of T cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL), blocking HSF1 killed cancer cells without affecting healthy tissues. (Pixabay / Geralt)
For the first time, researchers have discovered a link between a pathway that activates a protein called heat shock transcription factor 1 (HSF1) and leukemia. Blocking even just a single gene in this pathway could offer a new way of treating an aggressive form of the disease called T cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL), they believe.
What’s more, there’s already a drug in development that does just that, and it’s currently in clinical trials for breast cancer. Boston startup Samus Therapeutics is leading the research.
The researchers, led by the New York University School of Medicine, discovered that HSF1 signaling is “hijacked” by a pathway called NOTCH1. HSF1 normally produces other proteins that help healthy cells respond to stress. So when NOTCH1 takes control of HSF1, tumor cells grow out of control.
In mouse models of T-ALL, the researchers used genetic engineering to block HSF1. That killed all the cancer cells without affecting healthy tissues, they discovered. Removing HSF1 did not interrupt the production of normal blood cells, they said, nor could they find any other adverse effects. They published their research in the journal Nature Medicine.