Hippo is a biochemical pathway that is thought to regulate organ growth. It works by preventing further cell division once organs have reached their proper size. Camargo and his group believe that Hippo signals are part of a powerful checkpoint that restricts increases in cell numbers and activates cell death. This checkpoint would allow an organ to "know its size" and stop growing at the appropriate time, and may also suppress the unchecked increases in the numbers of cells that characterize tumor growth. Camargo's studies will determine the existence of this checkpoint and its role in suppressing tumor growth by using a model system in which the Hippo signal can be turned off and on. They will also identify novel proteins and small molecules that regulate Hippo signaling and could be used to develop new therapies for cancer. Insight into the relatively unexplored relationship between Hippo signaling, organ growth and tumor suppression holds the promise of yielding an entirely novel set of therapeutic targets for the treatment of human cancer, particularly for pediatric tumors.
Fernando D. Camargo, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the Stem Cell Program at the Children's Hospital Boston and in the Department of Stem Cell Regenerative Biology at Harvard University as well as a Principal Faculty member of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute.
Updated: Sept. 7, 2010