Support for concerns about novel anti-cancer therapies that inhibit autophagy

February 26, 2019—Autophagy is the process by which the cell recycles damaged or unwanted components, and its repression has lately become an attractive anti-cancer therapeutic strategy. But some researchers have reported that inhibiting autophagy may also promote tumour invasion and metastasis. To investigate these concerns, Ludwig Oxford’s Yihua Wang from Xin Lu’s lab studied the effect of autophagy on a transformation cancer cells undergo as they prepare for metastasis known as the epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT). Their results, published in the journal Autophagy, show that inhibiting autophagy promotes EMT in tumour cells whose growth is driven by mutation of the Ras family of proteins but not in tumours with normal Ras. The findings have implications for the development and potential use of this new class of cancer therapies.


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