Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) is one of the most common types of human cancer; it is the name given to a group of cancers that includes cancer of the mouth. While the prognosis for all patients with HNSCC is not good, it is substantially worse for those whose cancer has already spread (metastasized) to their lymph nodes by the time they are diagnosed. Identifying the molecules involved in promoting metastasis therefore provides potential new targets for drugs that might prevent the spread of cancer to new sites.
A team of researchers, led by Sumin Kang and Jing Chen, at the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University, Atlanta, has now generated several lines of evidence that suggest that the protein RSK2 might be a potential target for such drugs.
In the study, two of the key lines of evidence highlighting the potential of RSK2 as a therapeutic target were the observations that expression of RSK2 correlated with metastatic progression in patients with HNSCC and that decreasing RSK2 expression substantially reduced the metastatic potential of HNSCC cells in a xenograft mouse model of HNSCC. The authors therefore conclude that RSK2 is involved in the programming of HSNCC cells to become metastatic and that this makes it an ideal target for drugs that might prevent the spread of cancer to new sites.
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