Intriguing Bullseye for Brain Cancer

Glioblastoma multiforme could be treated by targeting SULF2

(RxWiki News) The most common cancerous brain tumor is also among the most aggressive cancers. Current therapies usually don't treat glioblastoma multiforme. So new treatment answers are desperately needed.

Researchers have discovered a potential therapeutic target for glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). Animal studies have found that blocking a particular protein - SULF2 - slowed GBM tumor growth.

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This research is the work of Joanna Phillips, M.D., clinical fellow in the department of pathology and Zena Werb, Ph.D., professor and vice-chair of anatomy at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and colleagues.

The team found that a large number of GBMs have an abnormally high level of pathways that are set into motion by a protein called PDGFR-alpha, which is thought to drive tumor growth.

In this study, researchers learned that another protein called SULF2 is also present in GBM tumors and cells. SULF2 regulates growth factor proteins such as PDGF.

Tumors that had irregular activation of pathways downstream from PDGFR-alpha had the highest levels of SULF2.

So what does all this scientific stuff mean?

Researchers found that blocking SULF2 curbed the growth human GBM cells implanted into mice. That means that going after SULF with a new drug may be a way to treat this aggressive brain cancer.

Development of such a drug is probably years away, but the authors suggest that testing GBM patients for SULF2 could be done now.

This would be important because PDGFR-alpha and other molecules that latch onto growth factors are also good targets.

The Journal of Clinical Investigation published this study February 1, 2012.

No financial conflicts of interest were disclosed.

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Review Date: 
February 1, 2012