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A lethal brain tumor's strength may be a weakness as well
Date:8/14/2010

wild-type EGFR is a poor oncogene."

The scientists discovered that tumor cells with mutant EGFR secrete molecules that cause neighboring cells with wild-type EGFR to accelerate their tumorigenic growth. "The mutant cells are instructing other less malignant tumor cells to become more malignant," said Furnari.

This signaling pathway between GBM tumor cells was not known and presents a new and potentially promising chink in the armor of glioblastomas. "If we can inhibit or block this cellular communication, the tumor does not grow as quickly and may be more treatable," Furnari said. Researchers have already identified two molecules that appear to trigger EGFR activity on non-mutant tumor cells.

The findings may also provide clues in the bigger picture of how GBMs and other cancers survive and thrive. "There are other types of mutations and growth factor receptors in tumors," Furnari said. "We need to look at how they communicate. Historically, brain tumor research has focused upon the most abundantly expressed mutations, but this research suggests minority mutations play very important roles as well."

The researchers' next step will be to create a mouse model with mixed cell glioblastoma that can be used to test different therapeutics, inhibitors and blocking agents.


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Contact: Scott LaFee
slafee@ucsd.edu
619-543-6163
University of California - San Diego
Source:Eurekalert

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