To end brain tumor growth: a switch?

Glioblastomas are among the most deadly cancers: fewer than 5 percent of those diagnosed with the brain tumors will survive more than five years. Researchers know that multiple different molecular pathways work in concert to help the tumors grow, and they’ve struggled to find drugs that block these cancer-enabling factors all at once.

Now, a team of School of Medicine scientists has discovered a single protein that can simultaneously weaken glioblastomas and make the environment around the tumors less welcoming to the cancer.

Sourav Ghosh, Ph.D., assistant professor of neurology, Carla V. Rothlin, Ph.D., assistant professor of immunobiology, and colleagues showed that blocking the protein—called atypical protein kinase (aPKC)—inactivated growth pathways in glioblastomas and reduced inflammation in the surrounding tissue. In mice with glioblastomas, they discovered, administering a drug targeting aPKC shrunk tumors by more than half in just a week. And in people with glioblastomas, higher levels of aPKC were correlated with poorer prognosis, they reported in the Aug. 12 issue of Science Signaling.

The findings suggest that drugs blocking aPKC in humans could be an effective treatment for glioblastomas.


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