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BioMed Research International
Volume 2015, Article ID 896432, 9 pages
Review Article

hERG1 Potassium Channels: Novel Biomarkers in Human Solid Cancers

1Experimental and Clinical Medicine, University of Florence, Viale GB Morgagni 50, 50134 Florence, Italy
2General Surgery and Surgical Oncology, Careggi University Hospital, Largo A Brambilla 3, 50134 Florence, Italy
3Breast Unit Surgery, Department of Oncology, Careggi University Hospital, Largo A Brambilla 3, 50134 Florence, Italy

Received 24 October 2014; Revised 16 February 2015; Accepted 24 February 2015

Academic Editor: Ondrej Topolcan

Copyright © 2015 Elena Lastraioli et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Because of their high incidence and mortality solid cancers are a major health problem worldwide. Although several new biomarkers and potential targets for therapy have been identified through biomolecular research in the last years, the effects on patients’ outcome are still unsatisfactory. Increasing evidence indicates that hERG1 potassium channels are overexpressed in human primary cancers of different origin and several associations between hERG1 expression and clinicopathological features and/or outcome are emerging. Aberrant hERG1 expression may be exploited either for early diagnosis (especially in those cancers where it is expressed in the initial steps of tumor progression) or for therapy purposes. Indeed, hERG1 blockage impairs tumor cell growth both in vitro and in vivo in preclinical mouse model. hERG1-based tumor therapy in humans, however, encounters the major hindrance of the potential cardiotoxicity that many hERG1 blockers exert. In this review we focus on recent advances in translational research in some of the most frequent human solid cancers (breast, endometrium, ovary, pancreas, esophagus, stomach, and colorectum) that have been shown to express hERG1 and that are a major health problem.