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Cell Mol Life Sci. 2007 Sep;64(18):2329-33.

'Heated' debates in apoptosis.

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  • 1Division of Pharmacology and Toxicology, College of Pharmacy, The University of Texas at Austin, 2409 University Avenue, Austin, Texas 78712-0125, USA.

Abstract

Hippocrates' assertion that 'what the lance does not heal, fire will' underscores the fact that for thousands of years heat has been used to treat a variety of diseases, including cancer. Indeed, spontaneous tumor remission has been observed in patients following feverish infection [1], and expression of activated oncogenes, such as Ras, can render tumor cells sensitive to heat compared with normal cells [2, 3]. In the past, a primary drawback to the use of heat as a clinical therapy was the inability to selectively focus heat to tumors in situ. Of late, however, several approaches have been devised to deliver heat more precisely, including the use of heated nanoparticles, making hyperthermia a more clinically tractable treatment option [4, 5]. Despite these practical advances, the mechanisms responsible for heat shock-induced cell death remain controversial and ill-defined. In this Visions and Reflections we discuss recent findings surrounding the initiation of heat shock-induced apoptosis, and propose future areas of research.

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