Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Next Step in a Fight Against Glioblastoma Multiforme

News Brief by Rohan Rao

Scientists at Cornell have recently found a new target for chemotherapy drugs that could tip the scale in favor of patients diagnosed with a specific type of brain cancer, glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). Brain cancer, in general, claims more lives of men (between ages 20 and 39) and children than any other cancer besides leukemia. GBM in particular is characterized by rapidly growing tumors that resist chemotherapy and radiation, metastasize easily, and recur commonly even after the tumor is removed. The prognosis for patients with GBM is poor, between often between 12 and 17 months. 

This new target in the fight against GBM is tissue transglutaminase (tTG), which is responsible for fostering the growth and survival of multiple types of tumors. Researchers found that tTG was present in patients with GBM, and the magnitude of tTG present was negatively correlated with how good the patient’s prognosis was. In other words, a greater presence of tTG was seen in patients with worse prognoses. Within the body, cells have epidermal growth factor receptors on their surfaces that, when a cell has to stop growing, are retracted back into the cytoplasm. tTG inhibits the retraction of these receptors, leading to excessive cell growth. It is quite a promising target, as animals can develop normally in the absence of tTG because similar proteins adjust to take on its responsibilities without similar cancer-contributing features. Therefore, it is possible that potential tTG-blockers will have insignificant side-effects. Now that the target has been acquired, researchers’ next step is to find a way to inhibit tTG. While the research to find a drug capable of doing so may be a long, arduous road, the significance of finding the initial target cannot be understated and is an enormous step in helping those afflicted by GBM.  

Hodes, C. (2013, November 19). Promising target found for better brain cancer drugs. Cornell Chronicle. Retrieved December 8, 2013, from http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/2013/11/promising-target-found-better-brain-cancer-drugs
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