Research ArticleCancer

Stress hormones promote EGFR inhibitor resistance in NSCLC: Implications for combinations with β-blockers

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Science Translational Medicine  08 Nov 2017:
Vol. 9, Issue 415, eaao4307
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aao4307

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Destressing cancer with β-blockers

Common wisdom holds that stress is not good for cancer patients, but it can be difficult to avoid considering that both the diagnosis of cancer and the associated treatments are quite stressful for the mind and body. Nilsson et al. investigated this phenomenon in non–small cell lung cancer, providing insights into the underlying mechanism and a potential intervention. The authors found that stress hormones activate β2-adrenergic receptors on cancer cells, activating a signaling cascade that promotes tumor resistance to EGFR inhibitors, a key therapy for this disease. Conversely, β-blockers—a common class of drugs used in humans—blocked this mechanism of resistance and may become a useful adjunct to lung cancer therapy regimens.