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AACR: Novel Breast Cancer Therapy Exploits Autophagy Response

Approach uses panobinostat to trigger cancer cell autophagy, and autophagy inhibitor to kill cells

FRIDAY, Nov. 20 (HealthDay News) -- Targeting a cancer cell's heat shock response protein 70 (hsp70) with panobinostat to induce autophagy in the stressed cell, and then introducing an autophagy inhibitor to force the cell to die off, may be an effective novel treatment strategy for breast cancer, according to a Nov. 16 press briefing presented at the American Association for Cancer Research -- National Cancer Institute -- European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer International Conference, "Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics," held from Nov. 15 to 19 in Boston.

Kapil Bhalla, M.D., the director of the Medical College of Georgia Cancer Center in Augusta, and colleagues treated breast cancer cells in mice mammaries with panobinostat, a histone deacetylase inhibitor.

The researchers found panobinostat induced acetylation of the amino acid lysine in the hsp70, and, as the tumor grew, the heat shock response and autophagy both increased. Introducing an autophagy inhibitor at that point blocked the cancer cells' survival response and effectively eliminated the cells. Currently, panobinostat is not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in breast cancer.

"Panobinostat accentuates stress, causes autophagy, and sets up the cell to be eliminated by autophagy inhibitors," Bhalla said in a statement.

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