Glioblastoma is the most common brain tumor in adults. There is no effective long-term treatment and patients usually live for 12 to 15 months after diagnosis. A new therapy has been discovered that cuts off the way some cancer cells communicate significantly and slows the rapid spread of a common and deadly brain tumor.
Loic Deleyrolle, research assistant professor of neurosurgery in the University of Florida College of Medicine in the US, said, "The technique improved the survival time for patients with glioblastoma by 50% when tested in a mouse model."
The research team focused on disrupting the cell-to-cell communication that allows cancer stem cells to spread. Deleyrolle said, "To do that, they targeted a channel that cancer cells use to transfer molecules. By cutting off their communications pathway, the deadly cells stay in check."
The study focused on connexin 46, a protein that is an essential component of cancer stem cells. It is part of intercellular channels known as a gap junction. The researchers found that intercellular channel, which allows cells to exchange molecules and ions, is crucial to the growth of a glioblastoma tumor.
Deleyrolle said, "When we shut down those channels in the cancer stem cells, we can significantly reduce the tumor-forming abilities of the cells. While the technique has yet to be tested in humans, the implications are clear and relevant."
The study was published in Cell Reports.