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Nat Rev Cancer. 2008 Oct;8(10):743-54. doi: 10.1038/nrc2503.

Basal cell carcinomas: attack of the hedgehog.

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  • 1Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute, 5700 Martin Luther King Jr Way, Oakland, California 94609, USA.


Basal cell carcinomas (BCCs) were essentially a molecular 'black box' until some 12 years ago, when identification of a genetic flaw in a rare subset of patients who have a great propensity to develop BCCs pointed to aberrant Hedgehog signalling as the pivotal defect leading to formation of these tumours. This discovery has facilitated a remarkable increase in our understanding of BCC carcinogenesis and has highlighted the carcinogenic role of this developmental pathway when aberrantly activated in adulthood. Importantly, a phase 1 first-in-human trial of a Hedgehog inhibitor has shown real progress in halting and even reversing the growth of these tumours.

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