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HSP90 Inhibitors: Biological Properties Revealed


Friday 23 March 2007


New research published by scientists from The Institute of Cancer Research, funded by Cancer Research UK and the Wellcome Trust, reveals for the first time the biological properties of a promising new class of synthetic potential anti-cancer drugs.


The compounds are from a new group of inhibitors known as HSP90 (Heat Shock Protein 90) inhibitors. HSP90 is a key cellular protein that has been shown to be a particularly appealing target for anti-cancer drugs as its inhibition causes the breakdown of multiple cancer causing proteins. Previous HSP90 research has demonstrated that these inhibitors could be developed into effective treatments for a range of cancers including: prostate, breast, colon, ovarian and skin.


The research, published in the journal Cancer Research*, provides the first detailed description of the lead compound - CCT018159 - a 3,4 diaryl pyrazole resorcinol HSP90 inhibitor discovered by the team. These molecules work by binding into a key region of the HSP90 protein in place of an ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) molecule. CCT018159 is particularly exciting as it delivers a multi-pronged attack on cancer cells, causing them to ‘commit suicide’ and also preventing the spread of the cancer cells and the formation of new tumour blood vessels (angiogenesis).


Professor Paul Workman of the Cancer Research UK Centre for Cancer Therapeutics at The Institute of Cancer Research says: “This research is still in the early stage but HSP90 inhibitors continue to be a really exciting group of potential new drugs. Their real strength lies in the fact that they target so many different aspects of the cancer cell machinery at the same time. This gives a very powerful anti-cancer effect and makes it difficult for tumours to develop resistance. We are delighted with the progress that has been made so far and we look forward to taking these therapies to the next stage.”


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*Volume 67, issue 5


For further information or to arrange interviews please contact:

Nadia Ramsey
The Institute of Cancer Research
Tel: 020 7153 5359 / 07788 427 856
Email: [email protected]



Notes to editors

The Institute of Cancer Research

  • The Institute of Cancer Research is Europe’s leading cancer research centre with expert scientists working on cutting edge research. It was founded in 1909 to carry out research into the causes of cancer and to develop new strategies for its prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care. Website at:
  • The Institute works in a unique partnership with The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, forming the largest comprehensive cancer centre in Europe. This relationship enables close daily contact with those on the frontline in the fight against cancer - the clinicians, the carers and most importantly, the patients.
  • The Institute is a charity that relies on voluntary income. The Institute is one of the world’s most cost-effective major cancer research organisations with over 90p in every £ directly supporting research.


Cancer Research UK

  • Together with its partners and supporters, Cancer Research UK's vision is to beat cancer.
  • Cancer Research UK carries out world-class research to improve understanding of the disease and find out how to prevent, diagnose and treat different kinds of cancer.
  • Cancer Research UK ensures that its findings are used to improve the lives of all cancer patients.
  • Cancer Research UK helps people to understand cancer, the progress that is being made and the choices each person can make.
  • Cancer Research UK works in partnership with others to achieve the greatest impact in the global fight against cancer.
    For further information about Cancer Research UK's work or to find out how to support the charity, please call 020 7009 8820 or visit

The Wellcome Trust

  • The Wellcome Trust is the largest charity in the UK and the second largest medical research charity in the world. It funds innovative biomedical research, in the UK and internationally, spending around £500 million each year to support the brightest scientists with the best ideas. The Wellcome Trust supports public debate about biomedical research and its impact on health and wellbeing.
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