Cancer is a condition in which the cells in a specific part of the body grow and reproduce uncontrollably. The cancerous cells can invade and destroy surrounding healthy tissue, including organs. Furthermore, cancer is among the leading causes of death worldwide. Its incidence and mortality are rapidly growing worldwide.
The treatment options involve surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy. However, it is necessary to develop targeted therapy. The Hedgehog signaling pathway is a potential and promising target for the anticancer therapy.
The researchers from the School of Medicine, University of Zagreb and Qatar University published their paper about the role of the Hedgehog signaling pathway in cancer in the journal BJBMS. The summary of the article is presented in this video.
The Hedgehog signaling pathway was first identified in the common fruit fly. It is highly conserved evolutionary pathway of signal transmission which plays an important role in the embryonic development. However, the precise role of the Hedgehog pathway in cancer is still not clear, but it could potentially be involved at different stages of carcinogenesis. Nevertheless, it is clear that the aberrant activation of hedgehog signaling leads to the growth, proliferation, and invasion of tumor cells.
Several key Hedgehog proteins could be the drug targets for the anticancer therapy, and therefore the targeted inhibition of the Hedgehog pathway could be an attractive and validated therapeutic strategy for the treatment of different cancer types. The aberrant activation of the Hedgehog signaling pathway is caused by mutations in the related genes (ligand-independent signaling) or by the excessive expression of the Hedgehog signaling molecules (ligand-dependent signaling – autocrine or paracrine).
Furthermore, several Hedgehog signaling pathway inhibitors, such as vismodegib and sonidegib, have been developed for cancer treatment, targeting specific molecules involved in Hedgehog signaling pathway. These drugs are regarded as promising cancer therapies, especially for patients with refractory or advanced cancers.
Editor: Edna Skopljak, MD