Lights On the Cancer Horizon

Glioblastoma multiforme genetic components identified as potential druggable targets

(RxWiki News) Is that a glimmer of light on the brain cancer horizon? Could be. Researchers have found new targets that might turn the lights out on one type of brain cancer.

A recent study has identified 125 potential new targets for treating glioblastoma multiforme. This bully cancer is very powerful and doesn’t play well with therapies. This discovery may lead to the development of new treatment options for glioblastoma multiforme (GM) in the years to come.

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Medical scientists at the University of Pittsburgh uncovered genetic components in GM cell lines that didn’t respond to the standard chemotherapy drug – temozolomide – sold under the brand names of Temodar and Methazolastone.

The standard of care for treating glioblastoma includes surgery and radiation, followed by treatment with temozolomide. GM resists the drug in most cases. That’s why there’s a big need for new therapies.

Glioblastoma is the most common brain cancer in people between the ages of 45-70. About 3,500 Americans are diagnosed with it every year. It’s a really tough cancer to beat.

Temozolomide is approved to treat this brain cancer. It’s also being tested in clinical trials as possible therapies for other cancers including other types of brain cancer, metastatic (has spread) melanoma, pancreatic cancer and leukemia.

The drug works by damaging the DNA of cancer cells in an attempt to kill them. Glioblastoma outsmarts temozolomide and survives by finding a way to repair the damage inflicted by the drug.

Senior author Robert W. Sobol, PhD, associate professor in the UP departments of Pharmacology & Chemical Biology and Human Genetics, examined more than 5,000 genes from glioblastoma cell lines. They were trying to learn why GM is resistant to temozolomide.

The researchers found 125 what they called “druggable” targets that could do one of two things – make the cells more responsive to temozolomide and/or be more effective in unraveling the process that keeps these cells alive after undergoing multiple therapies.

"Our hope is that drug companies will use our findings to develop adjuvant chemotherapy drugs that will vastly improve patient survival from this deadly cancer," Dr. Sobol said in a statement.

This research was published in the December issue of Molecular Cancer Research. The study was funded by grants from the National Brain Tumor Society, National Institutes of Health and a NYSTAR James Watson Award.

Review Date: 
January 3, 2013