Researchers create a promising new treatment for the deadliest form of brain cancer

September 2, 2015 by Reggie Kumar
Glioblastoma (histology slide). Credit: Wikipedia/CC BY-SA 3.0

UCLA scientists have developed a potentially promising new combination therapy for glioblastoma, the most common and deadliest form of brain cancer.

Glioblastoma, also known as grade IV glioma, is an aggressive in humans. Approximately 23,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with glioblastoma every year. Patients usually receive surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, but these treatments are not very effective as an estimated 50 percent of GBM patients die within one year, and 90 percent die within three years.

A study led by Dr. Robert Prins and Dr. Linda Liau, both members of the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, looked at the impact of a combined treatment using a chemotherapy drug called decitabine and genetically modified immune cells. It is a continuation of previous research, published in 2011, that focused on the effect of decitabine on glioblastoma human cell cultures.

In the new research, Prins and Liau used a technique called engineered adoptive T cell transfer, which involves extracting and growing immune cells outside of the body, then reprogramming them with the gene for a T cell receptor targeting New York esophageal squamous carcinoma, or NY-ESO-1. They are then injected back into mice with glioblastoma tumors to produce an immune response that targets the .

Glioblastoma cells do not naturally produce NY-ESO-1, so the researchers administered decitabine prior to injecting the reprogrammed T cells in order to cause the to express the NY-ESO-1 target.

"The lymphocytes will seek out and find the in the brain," said Prins, UCLA associate professor in the departments of neurosurgery and molecular and medical pharmacology. "They can cross different fiber tracts in the brain to reach tumor cells that have migrated away from the main tumor mass. These factors are important in the treatment of invasive tumors, such as glioblastoma. While surgery to remove the main tumor mass can be done, it is not possible to then locate the tumor cells that get away and this ultimately leads to a nearly universal tumor regrowth."

This new method was about 50 percent effective at curing glioblastoma in the study.

"Brain cancer cells are very good at evading the host immune system, because they do not express specific targets that can be recognized by ," said Liau, UCLA professor and vice chair of neurosurgery.

"By treating cells with decitabine, we found that we can unmask targets on the tumor cell that can be recognized by killer T cells. Once these targets are uncovered, we can then administer T cells that are genetically programmed to attack tumor cells with the new targets."

The next stage of Prins' and Liau's research will verify these findings in other brain tumor models.

This research will be published today in the journal Neuro-Oncology.

Explore further: Researchers identify protein pathway involved in brain tumor stem cell growth

Related Stories

Killer cocktail fights brain cancer

November 25, 2013

A novel immune-boosting drug combination eradicates brain cancer in mice, according to a study in The Journal of Experimental Medicine.

Recommended for you

Is there a link between telomere length and cancer?

March 23, 2017

Telomeres are regions of repetitive DNA at the end of human chromosomes, which protect the end of the chromosome from damage. Whilst shorter telomeres are hypothesized biological markers of older age and have been linked ...

Three-pronged approach is key to precision medicine

March 23, 2017

Combining genetic information from a patient's tumor cells with three-dimensional cell cultures grown from these tumors and rapidly screening approved drugs can identify the best treatment approaches in patients for whom ...

How the nervous system controls tumor growth

March 22, 2017

(Medical Xpress)—From the time it first comes online during development the nervous system begins to exact precise control over many biologic functions. In some cases, too much control. When it does, a little nerve-squelching ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

the masked scientist
not rated yet Sep 03, 2015
One should watch " Burzynski the movie" which discusses this cancer. While his work has been vilified a recent study in PLOS One concludes "....We conclude that in this study antineoplastons have demonstrated a promising level of efficacy against postoperative recurrence with a median CSS time of 67 months in the AN arm versus 39 months in the control arm, achieved via inhibition of early growth in metastatic tumors from colorectal cancer. The administration of antineoplaston AS2–1 may be clinically effective as a postoperative adjuvant therapy in liver metastasis from colorectal cance" citation Ogata Y, Matono K, Tsuda H, Ushijima M, Uchida S, Akagi Y, et al. (2015) Randomized Phase II Study of 5-Fluorouracil Hepatic Arterial Infusion with or without Antineoplastons as an Adjuvant Therapy after Hepatectomy for Liver Metastases from Colorectal Cancer. PLoS ONE 10(3): e0120064. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0120064

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.