The USP15 Biological Thermostat: lead author Joan Seoane underlines findings published in Nature Medicine

Lead author Joan Seoane, Director of Translational Research at the Vall d´Hebron Institute of Oncology (VHIO) and ICREA Research Professor outlines the research published in today´s Nature Medicine and explores the relevance and potential impact of these findings:

Tumors from different patients have different characteristics and most importantly, different sensitivities to treatments. This implies that we have to generate tailored treatments based on the molecular characteristics of the tumor. Moreover, due to tumor diversity, we need to generate an arsenal of specific rational treatments to target each of the tumor subtypes.

With the aim of discovering novel treatments, we studied the molecular mechanisms involved in brain tumors and found that USP15, a deubiquinating enzyme, is aberrantly expressed in some tumors due to gene amplification. Patients with USP15 amplification have a poor prognosis. USP15 is critical for tumor progression and we have demonstrated using a patient-derived model, that repressing USP15 activity prevents tumor growth.

Interestingly, USP15 is an enzyme and it can therefore easily be inhibited pharmacologically – a promising therapeutic target against cancer. Our research opens a new avenue for the treatment of cancer based on the inhibition of deubiquitinating enzymes.

We are at a unique moment in cancer research. Based on the knowledge that we have accumulated over the last years we can begin to have an impact on cancer treatment. The thorough study of the molecular mechanisms involved in cancer will allow the design of new treatments. We are consequently on the eve of an extremely promising new era of cancer treatment.

This work has been developed at the Vall d’Hebron Institute of Oncology (VHIO) within the Vall d’Hebron Hospital. All the experimental work was developed at VHIO, however, this work is the result of multidisciplinary team work based on collaborations with members of the Vall d’Hebron Institut de Recerca and the Nederland Cancer Institute (NKI) in Amsterdam.

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