A major breakthrough in how to target and destroy the most malignant and aggressive brain cancer cells has been made by researchers.
The finding allows for new possibilities in cancer research previously not known to be readily feasible.
Scientists at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center have identified a way to target and destroy Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) cells without harming healthy cells.
"Treatment of patients with Glioblastoma multiforme is still a major challenge, as GBM is extremely difficult to manage," said Waldemar Debinski.
Almost 20 years ago, Debinski and colleagues developed what Debinski has dubbed a "designer protein," a single-chain protein that is able to seek out and make its way into specific cells, such as cancer cells.
"It's possible that we could design the protein in such a way that it recognizes GBM cells and then delivers a drug or some other therapy into those cells in a way that will put those active agents inside a specific subcellular compartment like the nucleus, destroying only that specific cell," Debinski said.
"Some radiation, if applied to the body, will do nothing to the cancer cells because it can't penetrate far enough into the body to reach its specific site of action in the cells.
However, if we deliver that same radiation specifically to the nuclei of GBM cells, it can destroy the DNA of the cancer cell, leaving the cell unable to live any longer. It dies and the neighboring healthy cells go untouched. In this way, we think we may be able to provide a therapy that is both effective and at the same time less toxic," he said.
The findings were published in the journal Genes and Cancer.