In 10 seconds? Heat shock proteins or HSPs are important in ensuring our proteins keep their proper shape and function. Interestingly, it seems they play a role in cancer as well. Much research is focused on unlocking their potential in cancer treatments and diagnostics.
Why are they called heat shock proteins and what do they do? HSPs were originally discovered in fruit flies for their role in helping proteins maintain their shapes at high temperatures. These days we know they are created during all sorts of ‘shocks’, like malnutrition or exposure to harmful radiation. With increased attention, researchers have discovered that heat shock proteins also play additional roles in maintaining cellular homeostasis (AKA healthy normal functioning), that includes cell death (apoptosis) and cell replication.