Gauging brain cancer survival time may get easier, study says

Gauging brain cancer survival time may get easier: study
People with overactive version of a specific enzyme live less than half as long, research suggests.

(HealthDay)—Life expectancy of people with aggressive brain cancer may be easier to determine with a new method under development at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, researchers say.

The UAB researchers found that patients with an overactive version of a specific enzyme live less than half as long as those with a less active version. This overactive enzyme can help predict how resistant the will be to chemotherapy, and also help doctors arrive at , the researchers said.

In conducting the study, published April 10 in the journal PLoS ONE, the researchers examined tumors from 84 patients with a form of brain cancer known as glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). This deadly and quickly becomes resistant to available treatments. With a combination of surgery, radiation and the chemotherapy drug temozolomide, patients with this form of brain cancer typically survive an average of 12 to 15 months.

The study revealed, however, that 25 percent to 30 percent of the patients whose tumor cells had an overactive version of an enzyme known as cytochrome c oxidase (CcO) live less than half as long as patients with a less active version.

"Our study reports for the first time the role of [CcO] as a in GBM patients' tumor tissues," study leader Corinne Griguer, an associate professor of in the UAB School of Medicine, said in a university news release. "High CcO activity comes with a 25-fold increase in risk of death."

The researchers said patients with the overactive enzyme lived for an average of six months. Those with a less active version lived for 14 months. Examination of a second group of glioblastoma multiforme patients from Europe confirmed their findings, the researchers said.

They concluded that with increased CcO activity generate more energy and are more resistant to chemotherapy. The overactive enzyme also interferes with a protein, called cytochrome c, that triggers the self-destruction of cells infected or damaged by diseases such as cancer. When this happens, cancer cells can survive an abnormally long time.

But the researchers aren't stopping with this finding. "Giving some GBM patients bad news about their prognoses without also giving them better treatment options doesn't seem right to me," said Griguer, noting that the team is experimenting with another enzyme to try to predict patients' survival benefit from the chemo drug temozolomide.

"Our ultimate goal is to use the same mechanism that predicts shorter survival in some to design drugs that target cells not killed right away by chemotherapy," she said.

More information: The U.S. National Institutes of Health provides more information on brain cancer.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Research shows new prognosis tool for deadly brain cancer

Jun 20, 2012

A diagnosis of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is generally a death sentence, but new research from the University of Wisconsin-Madison lab of Dr. John Kuo shows that at least one subtype is associated with a longer life expectancy. ...

Recommended for you

Britain to map 100,000 DNA code sequences

48 minutes ago

British scientists are to map 100,000 complete DNA code sequences in a project that will make the country a world leader in genetic research on cancer and rare diseases, the prime minister said on Friday.

New paper describes how DNA avoids damage from UV light

14 hours ago

In the same week that the U.S. surgeon general issued a 101-page report about the dangers of skin cancer, researchers at Montana State University published a paper breaking new ground on how DNA – the genetic code in every ...

User comments