February 6, 2012

Hope for Glioblastoma Patients

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Thousands of individuals are diagnosed with Glioblastoma mutiforme (GMB) each year and given little hope of survival. Sadly this is one of the most difficult forms of brain cancer to treat and the most common.

Due to the aggressive nature of GMB there have been few successful therapies for the treatment of this form of brain cancer.  A team at the University of California in San Francisco lead by Joanna Philips, and Zena Werb has discovered a possible new therapeutic target for the treatment of GMB.

In GMB evidence of abnormal activation of signaling pathways due to a cell surface protein known as PDGFR-alpha is thought to drive the brain tumor. PDGFR-alpha triggers activation of signaling pathways when it binds the growth factor PDGF.

The team discovered that the protein, SULF2, which is known for regulating the availability of growth factors such as PDGF, was expressed in primary human GBM tumors and cell lines. Furthermore, GBMs characterized by abnormal activation of signaling pathways down stream of PDGFR-alpha showed the strongest SULF2 expression. By reducing expression of SULF2 in human GBM cell lines there was a reduction in the growth of these cells when transplanted into mice.

Phillips Werb and colleagues suggest that SULF2 is a candidate therapeutic target in the treatment of GBM and that assessing its levels could identify tumors dependent on growth factors such as PDGF.

SOURCE: Journal of Clinical Investigation, February 2, 2012