Skin Cancer Drug Fights Hedgehog Proteins

Skin Cancer Drug Fights Hedgehog Proteins

by January 31, 2012

Robotnikinin Lives?  Erivedge Combats Basal Cell Carcinoma

Longtime and more scienfitically inclined Sonic fans may remember the discovery of so-called hedgehog genes, including two notable ones dubbed Sonic hedgehog homolog and Indian hedgehog b, previously known as Echidna hedgehog.  While the names are cool, their purpose in genomes becomes less so as life goes on; they are part of something larger called the Hedgehog signaling pathway, which is essential to regulate growth in youth, but can lead to serious disabilities if mutated, and can be used to detect cancer in adults.

For years, scientists have been working on inhibitors to the pathway for various medical uses, and as The New York Times reported yesterday, there is now a drug on the market which does just that, of great relief to those with basal cell carcinoma, a more common form of skin cancer.  The drug is called Erivedge, and according to the Times, it helps inhibit the hedgehog pathway by binding to the Smoothened protein.  The drug is being heralded as a good alternative for those who can’t have surgery on the cancerous cells, but a typical treatment is expected to cost $75,000 over 10 months.

It’s not clear whether the inhibitor Erivedge ultimately enables bears any resemblance to another potential hedgehog gateway inhibitor discovered in 2009 called Robotnikinin, or if that macrocycle was of any help toward development of this drug.  If so, let it be known that even for the greater medical good, the Eggman does not work cheap.   Thanks to Velocity for tipping us on this.  If you have news to share, be sure to share it with us.  Click Send Tips at the top of every page, or tip us on Twitter.