October 28, 2008

‘Sonic Hedgehog’ Protein Feeds Tumors

U.S. researchers said brain tumors appear to more aggressive when they feed off cancer stem cells that use Sonic Hedgehog protein signaling mechanisms.

The researchers said the finding could help in the development of treatments that kill malignant brain tumors at their source and prevent them from recurring, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center said Monday.

The study, conducted by Cedars Sinai's Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute, identified a subset of brain tumor stem cells that are dependent on a protein called Sonic Hedgehog. The report said the Sonic Hedgehog signaling mechanism appears to be one of the molecular mechanisms regulating both normal stem-cell growth and cancer stem-cell growth.

"According to our analysis, patients who have malignant brain tumors produced from cancer stem cells that rely on this mechanism have a shorter survival than those who don't," Dr. John S. Yu, director of Surgical Neuro-oncology at Cedars-Sinai, said in a release.

The findings are published in the journal Stem Cells.