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Clin Cancer Res. 2009 Jan 1;15(1):9-14. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-08-0132.

Heat shock protein 90 as a drug target: some like it hot.

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Section of Medicine, The Royal Marsden Hospital/The Institute of Cancer Research, Surrey, United Kingdom.


Heat shock protein 90 (HSP90) is a ubiquitously expressed chaperone that is involved in the posttranslational folding and stability of proteins. Inhibition at the NH(2)-terminal ATP-binding site leads to the degradation of client proteins by the ubiquitin proteasome pathway. Inhibition of HSP90 leads to the degradation of known oncogenes, such as ERB-B2, BRAF, and BCR-ABL, leading to the combinatorial blockade of multiple signal transduction pathways, such as the RAS-RAF-mitogen-activated protein/extracellular signal-regulated kinase kinase-extracellular signal-regulated kinase and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase pathways. Multiple structurally diverse HSP90 inhibitors are undergoing early clinical evaluation. The clinical focus of these drugs should be solid tumors, such as breast, prostate, and lung cancers, along with malignant melanoma, in addition to hematologic malignancies, such as chronic myeloid leukemia and multiple myeloma. HSP90 inhibitors can be used as single agents or in combination with other targeted treatments or conventional forms of treatment such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Clinical trials evaluating efficacy of these agents should include innovative designs to capture cytostasis evidenced by clinical nonprogression and enrichment of patient populations by molecular characterization. The results of clinical trials evaluating the efficacy of drugs targeting this exciting target are awaited.

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