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World J Gastroenterol. 2014 Mar 7;20(9):2335-42. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v20.i9.2335.

Hedgehog signaling pathway as a new therapeutic target in pancreatic cancer.

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Hideya Onishi, Mitsuo Katano, Department of Cancer Therapy and Research, Graduate School of Medical Sciences, Kyushu University, Fukuoka 812-8582, Japan.


Pancreatic cancer is one of the most aggressive and difficult cancers to treat. Despite numerous research efforts, limited success has been achieved in the therapeutic management of patients with this disease. In the current review, we focus on one component of morphogenesis signaling, Hedgehog (Hh), with the aim of developing novel, effective therapies for the treatment of pancreatic cancer. Hh signaling contributes to the induction of a malignant phenotype in pancreatic cancer and is responsible for maintaining pancreatic cancer stem cells. In addition, we propose a novel concept linking Hh signaling and tumor hypoxic conditions, and discuss the effects of Hh inhibitors in clinical trials. The Hh signaling pathway may represent a potential therapeutic target for patients with refractory pancreatic cancer.


Cancer stem cells; Hedgehog signaling pathway; Hypoxic condition; Pancreatic cancer; Therapeutic target

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