Inhibitors of cholesterol synthesis -- such as statin drugs -- may inhibit growth of some tumors, according to a paper in this week's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The authors found that sterols or their derivatives have a critical effect on the sonic hedgehog (Shh) signaling pathway in medulloblastoma cells, suggesting that blocking sterols could stop medulloblastoma and other Shh-dependent tumors."The implication for treatment of human cancer is actually pretty good," said David Robbins of Dartmouth Medical School in Hanover, NH, who was not involved in the study. "Medulloblastoma cells seem to be very susceptible to changes in cholesterol biosynthesis."Shh signaling, when unregulated, promotes the formation of some human tumors, especially medulloblastoma and basal cell carcinoma. A loss-of-function mutation in the tumor-suppressor gene PATCHED is the most common mutation underlying uncontrolled Shh signaling. The Patched protein normally inhibits downstream Shh target genes by blocking function of the...

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