Targeting the HOX/PBX interaction in tumour cells using a peptide, HXR9.
Potential targets for novel therapies include proteins involved in cell growth and signaling within the cell. These include proteins, so called transcription factors, that have previously been identified as being switched on in cancer and therefore lead to unchecked growth of cells. Of particular note are the HOX genes, a family of proteins normally involved in development of the nervous system in the embryo. We have designed a small protein, HXR9, which is able to pass into the cell and disrupt the interaction between HOX and a second protein, PBX. This protein is able to cause cell death when added to cancer cells in culture and also can also reduce or prevent the growth of melanoma, breast, lung, ovarian and prostate tumours.
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The potential of HXR9 has now been realised and a start-up company, HOX Therapeutics, has been established in order to develop this novel therapy further and carry out clinical trials in man. A huge amount of work has been carried out by our group to study HOX genes in cancer cells and also assess HXR9 in a range of cancers. This is reflected in the publication of many papers in peer reviewed journals:
giving men a better chance of beating prostate cancer