A protein, called TRPC6, could hold the key to treating one of the most common and aggressive brain tumours in adults, say biomedical researchers at the University of Central Florida.
Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), the type of malignant brain tumour that killed the late U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy, is difficult to treat because it spreads cancerous cells to other parts of the brain very quickly.
There is no cure, and treatments have limited success.
They consist of surgically removing the tumor from the brain, followed by radiation therapy and chemotherapy. About half of the patients don't survive for more than a year after their diagnosis And thus the role of TRPC6 discovered at UCF is so promising.
"Collectively, our studies indicate that TRPC6 is a key mediator of tumor growth of GBM. It may be a promising therapeutic target in the treatment of human GBM," said Sic L. Chan, the UCF assistant professor of Neuroscience who led the team of scientists.
TRPC6 is a receptor channel protein found in most, if not all, cells in the body. It promotes cell growth during development of the central nervous system.
The researchers ran several experiments with cancerous brain tissue obtained from Florida Hospital in Orlando and Duke University Medical Center.
They found that this protein is strongly expressed and functional in brain tumor cells. Further research found that they could stop the growth and spread of tumours by knocking down the expression of this protein.
It is the first time such findings have been made with this particular kind of brain tumour.
"This is very exciting, because our work will help patients in the future. Malignant gliomas remain one of the most devastating cancers despite recent advancements," said UCF research fellow Srinivasulu Chigurupati, who worked on the team.