'Hijacked' cell response to stress reveals promising drug targets for blood cancer
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A signaling pathway that helps promote normal cell growth worsens a form of leukemia by taking control of another pathway better known for protecting cells from biological stress, a new study shows.

The discovery that the NOTCH1 pathway takes control of heat shock transcription factor 1 (HSF1) signaling in T cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, or T-ALL, suggests that blocking one or more genes in the HSF1 pathway could represent a new approach in treating the aggressive disease, researchers say.

Moreover, the NYU School of Medicine scientists who led the latest research efforts say that because an experimental anticancer drug is already in development against one of these targets, heat shock protein 90 (HSP90), the new study identifies the subset of T-ALL patients most likely to benefit from the new therapy.

Reporting in the journal Nature Medicine online July 23, researchers say their study is the first to directly link activation of HSF1, which is critical to the production of dozens of other proteins, including HSP90, to any leukemia.

“Our study shows how the NOTCH1 pathway hijacks the heat shock transcription factor 1 pathway to promote tumor growth,” says study senior investigator Iannis Aifantis, PhD, professor and chair of the

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