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Recurring Brain Cancer Can Be Fought At Its Root

Sep, 2021

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Study discovered a specific protein that encourages the development of cancer cells causing recurrence of brain cancer.  

A team of scientists at McGill University, Canada, identified proteins that play a key role in regrowth of cancer tumors. These cells can make regular cancer therapies like radiotherapy and chemotherapy ineffective by driving the recurrence of tumor. According to the research published in the journal Cell Reports in August 2021, targeting and repressing a specific protein named galectin1 could give a more efficient therapy for glioblastoma grouped with radiation treatment.

Cancer stem cells are seen as boosting agent for tenacious cancers and there have been studies that focus on finding some way to extract them out of the equation such as novel nanoparticles and designer DNA molecules. The scientists used this theory on brain tumor stem cells to address the problem of recurring tumors in glioblastoma patients. The team of researchers investigated the operating method of these cells and it directed them to discovery of a protein pair that controls the genetic programming of their behavior. They found a protein galectin1 interacting with other protein called HOXA5 to guide this process. Scientists tested this in animal glioblastoma model.  The galectin1 protein was supressed when they deleted the gene that encrypts it. Major improvements were observed in the results where tumor responded to radiotherapy increasing lifespan of the animal.

When glioblastoma patients’ database was studied, it was observed that those who had low level of galectin1 and HOXA5 proteins had best prognosis. The study helped expand knowledge around the function of cancer stem cells and how they can be aimed for better results. The researchers are exploring ways to target galectin1 and HOXA5 complex in the brain.

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