DNA becomes primary target in fight against glioblastoma

July 21, 2017 by Chrystian Tejedor, Florida International University
Credit: Florida International University

By exploiting a brain tumor's own biology, researchers at FIU's Biomolecular Sciences Institute (BSI) are hoping to destroy glioblastoma, a deadly brain cancer with no known cure.

Current methods of treatment are complicated and while they can only prolong a patient's life by a few months, they cannot cure the cancer—a reality many Americans are becoming aware of following the recent diagnosis for former presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. John McCain. It would be ideal if current treatments worked well for everyone, but when a cancer patient is undergoing radiation or , the tumors are fighting for their own life, according to BSI Director Yuk-Ching Tse-Dinh, a professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry in the College of Arts, Sciences & Education.

The BSI team is working on a two-pronged method of stamping out the tumor. Tse-Dinh and Chemistry and Biochemistry associate professor Yuan Liu are trying to inhibit the tumor from repairing its own DNA. Liu points out that tumors have evolved over time to boost their DNA repair in an effort to stave off the damage inflicted with radiation or chemotherapy. The researchers hope they can make existing drugs more effective in destroying a glioblastoma tumor with this approach.

Jeremy W. Chambers, an assistant professor of Environmental and Occupational Health in the Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work, is studying whether changes in mitochondria, the powerhouses of a cell, can trick cancer cells into entering the pathway toward .

"We're looking at this from multiple angles," Tse-Dinh said. "We want to understand the factors that determine the tumor's overall response to chemotherapy or whether a particular patient may be more responsive to a particular therapy or regiment."

Ultimately, if a tumor has to dedicate resources to fighting the damage in its own genome or undergo programmed cell death, researchers hope they can bring an end to glioblastoma's aggressive attack on the brain.

Today, current treatment involves surgical removal of as much of the tumor as possible, followed by radiation and drugs to attack whatever remains. But glioblastoma is very difficult to treat and radiation and chemotherapy are particularly hard on patients.

"Think of it as an octopus with a central body and tendrils that project into the brain. Then imagine being a surgeon trying to remove the and all these projections," Chambers said.

With the new approaches being investigated by the BSI team, the researchers hope to reduce the toxic effects of chemotherapy and improve the outcome of glioblastoma treatment.

Explore further: Identification of PTPRZ as a drug target for cancer stem cells in glioblastoma

Related Stories

Identification of PTPRZ as a drug target for cancer stem cells in glioblastoma

July 19, 2017
Glioblastoma is a malignant brain tumor with high mortality. Cancer stem cells are thought to be crucial for tumor initiation and its recurrence after standard therapy with radiation and temozolomide (TMZ) chemotherapy. Protein ...

Glioblastoma 'ecosystem' redefined for more effective immunotherapy trials

July 10, 2017
A research team has revealed the intrinsic gene expression patterns of glioblastoma (GBM) tumors, insights that could drive more effective treatments for GBM, the most common and deadly malignant primary brain tumors in adults.

Using a microRNA to shift the makeup of glioblastoma subtypes

July 13, 2017
Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), an extremely aggressive brain cancer, is a very complex disease. It is characterized by a fast-growing tumor in the brain composed of many subpopulations of cells, including glioblastoma stem ...

Study finds new targets for drugs to defeat aggressive brain tumor

December 14, 2012
University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI) researchers have identified over 125 genetic components in a chemotherapy-resistant, brain tumor-derived cell line, which could offer new hope for drug treatment to destroy ...

Researchers find new driver of an aggressive form of brain cancer

November 15, 2016
University of Hawai'i Cancer Center researchers have identified an essential driver of tumor cell invasion in glioblastoma, the most aggressive form of brain cancer that can occur at any age. The discovery can help researchers ...

Recommended for you

New drug seeks receptors in sarcoma cells, attacks tumors in animal trials

December 13, 2018
A new compound that targets a receptor within sarcoma cancer cells shrank tumors and hampered their ability to spread in mice and pigs, a study from researchers at the University of Illinois reports.

Surgery unnecessary for many prostate cancer patients

December 13, 2018
Otherwise healthy men with advanced prostate cancer may benefit greatly from surgery, but many with this diagnosis have no need for it. These conclusions were reached by researchers after following a large group of Scandinavian ...

Combining three treatment strategies may significantly improve melanoma treatment

December 12, 2018
A study by a team led by a Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) investigator finds evidence that combining three advanced treatment strategies for malignant melanoma—molecular targeted therapy, immune checkpoint blockade ...

Researchers use computer model to predict prostate cancer progression

December 12, 2018
An international team of cancer researchers from Denmark and Germany have used cancer patient data to develop a computer model that can predict the progression of prostate cancer. The model is currently being implemented ...

An integrated approach to finding new treatments for breast cancer

December 12, 2018
Unraveling the complexity of cancer biology can lead to the identification new molecules involved in breast cancer and prompt new avenues for drug development. And proteogenomics, an integrated, multipronged approach, seems ...

New insight into stem cell behaviour highlights therapeutic target for cancer treatment

December 12, 2018
Research led by the University of Plymouth and Technische Universität Dresden has identified a new therapeutic target for cancer treatment and tissue regeneration – a protein called Prominin-1.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Jul 23, 2017
How about Sulphorane (from broccoli) and DMSO. Sulphorane is extremely toxic to brain cancer cells, triggering apoptosis very well, but it has poor transport across the blood brain barrier. Di-Methyl Sulfoxide or DMSO absorbs through the skin and has VERY high transport potential across BBB...

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.