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Brain tumor discovery could lead to new treatment
Date:7/8/2011

ed to therapeutic resistance, evasion of cell death, and enhanced proliferation. Nitric oxide is produced in cancer stem cells through increased levels of the enzyme nitric oxide synthase 2 (NOS2); decreasing the level or activity of this enzyme reduces cancer stem cell growth. When drugs inhibiting the NOS2 enzyme were given to mice with gliomas, the growth of the tumors was delayed. Using the National Institutes of Health supported database of glioma specimen data, they also found that increased levels of this enzyme are associated with decreased survival of glioma patients. Targeting this pathway could therefore provide benefits for glioma patients.

Current therapies for cancer have many side effects, because they rely on the increased sensitivity of the cancer cells to drugs which are toxic to normal cells. It is therefore important to consider the potential side effects of any new proposed cancer treatment. The current study did compare the levels of the enzyme NOS2 and the effects of its inhibitors in cancer stem cells and normal neural stem cells. Normal neural stem cells have some similar properties as cancer stem cells from gliomas but cannot form tumors. Only cancer stem cells were found to depend on the enzyme for their growth. Drugs inhibiting the NOS2 enzyme were evaluated in patients for the treatment of other diseases and had minimal toxicity. The authors suggest that these drugs may therefore be useful for enhancing the effects of current therapies without adding a lot of side effects. NOS2 inhibitors may thereby pose a potential therapeutic breakthrough for this lethal disease.


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Contact: Dan Doron
dorond@ccf.org
216-312-0428
Lerner Research Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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