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Cross-Talk of Hedgehog and Interleukin-6 Signaling in Cancer

Persistent activation of Hedgehog (HH)/GLI signaling accounts for the development of basal cell carcinoma (BCC), a very frequent non-melanoma skin cancer with rising incidence. Targeting HH/GLI signaling by approved pathway inhibitors can provide significant therapeutic benefit to BCC patients. However, limited response rates, development of drug resistance and severe side effects of HH pathway inhibitors call for improved treatment strategies such as rational combination therapies simultaneously inhibiting HH/GLI and cooperative signals promoting the oncogenic activity of HH/GLI. In this study, we identified the Interleukin-6 (IL6) pathway as a novel synergistic signal promoting oncogenic HH/GLI via STAT3 activation. Our genetic and pharmacologic data now published in the International Journal of  Cancer suggest that combinatorial HH-IL6 pathway blockade is a promising approach to efficiently arrest cancer growth in BCC patients.