WDBJ recently carried special news from Virginia Tech’s Fralin Biomedical Institute. Treatment has been identified for glioblastoma patients. Glioblastoma is a fatal disease resulting in death within fifteen months after diagnosis. The primary reason is said to be that glioblastoma is resistant to chemotherapy treatments (chemoresistance).
The researchers have discovered two proteins that, when added to a chemotherapy treatment already in existence, will break down any resistance.
Professor Zhi Sheng of the Fralin Institute led the research team that discovered the proteins. He explained that now they can slow the progression of the disease.
The team will be moving forward with new studies for their three-pronged treatment approach to glioblastoma in the near future.
About the New Findings
A drug named temozolomide disrupts DNA and results in the death of tumor cells. Fifty percent of patients with glioblastoma have the type of disease that produces an enzyme that repairs DNA called MGMT. If MGMT is missing, then temozolomide will not be effective.
Dr. Sheng and his team worked with cells taken from primary glioblastoma cells. They discovered that a certain pair of proteins, together with temozolomide, results in an effective therapy that can overcome chemoresistance and thus extends survival.
About the New Study
The new study, combined with the 2015 study by Shen Lab identifies a channel protein which is a form of transport protein. The channel protein allows water molecules to pass through membranes rapidly.
The channel protein interacts with molecules called signaling molecules. They drive the tumor growth underlying chemotherapy resistance in the glioblastomas that lack MGMT, the protein that repairs DNA.
Dr. Robert Gourdie, co-author, feels that this might be a kill switch and a possible way to extend cancer survival for glioblastoma patients.
Previous glioma studies have found that expanded levels of connexin 43 protein have suppressed the growth of tumors.
Importantly, Professor Sheng’s team showed that – more – connexin 43 promotes the growth of cancer and chemoresistance.
Ten years ago Professor Gourdie’s team developed alphaCT1, a connexin 43 targeting molecule. In their new study, Professor Sheng and associates found other targets that enhance the alphaCT1 molecule.
Professor Sheng said that he feels the most important finding in the study is their discovery that connexin 43 binds to PIK3CB/p110beta protein. This helps glioblastoma cells become chemoresistant.
Further, Professor Sheng noted that if they succeed in their efforts, glioblastoma’s drug resistance resulting from increased levels of connexin 43 and PIK3CB/p110beta will be overcome. This accounts for twenty-five percent of cases.
Glioblastoma caused the deaths of senators John McCain and Ted Kennedy, alongside the death of Joe “Beau” Biden III.