Taking down a tumor
Glioblastoma multiforme(GBM) is the most common and aggressive form of malignant brain tumor in humans. It has steadfastly defied efforts to treat it. Patients with GBMs either have an upfront resistance to current therapies or quickly develop one to the existing drug-based inhibitors designed to disable a protein called epidermal growth factor receptor or EGFR that is critical to tumor growth and survival.
As a result, a GBM prognosis is not good. Median survival time after diagnosis (usually made after the tumor is well-developed) is just 14 months.
In a paper published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers from the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, UC San Diego, UCLA and the University of Sao Paolo in Brazil describe a mechanism in GBMs that defines its resistance to therapy. You can read the full news release here.
The work builds upon earlier research by Furnari and colleagues. Also, in 2011, UC San Diego scientists, in collaboration with colleagues in Boston and South Korea, identified a novel gene mutation that causes at least one form of GBM. Perhaps more importantly, the researchers found that two drugs already being used to treat other forms of cancer effectively prolonged the survival of mice modeling this particular form of the brain tumor.