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Metabolic molecule drives growth of aggressive brain cancer
Date:6/13/2013

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Little is known, however, about the metabolic pathways that drive the growth of individual glioblastoma subtypes knowledge that is crucial for developing novel and effective targeted therapies that might improve treatment for these lethal tumors.

For this study, Nakano and his collaborators used cancer cells from 40 patients with high-grade gliomas, focusing on tumor cells with a stem-cell signature. The researchers then used microarray analysis and pre-clinical animal assays to identify two predominant glioblastoma subtypes, proneural and mesenchymal.

Key technical findings include:

  • Genes involved in glycolysis and gluconeogenesis, particularly ALDH1A3, were significantly up-regulated in mesenchymal glioma stem cells compared to proneural stem cells;
  • Mesenchymal glioma stem cells show significantly higher radiation resistance and high expression of DNA-repair genes;
  • Radiation induces transformation of proneural glioma stem cells into mesenchymal-like glioma stem cells that are highly resistant to radiation treatment; inhibiting the ALDH1 pathway reverses this resistance.
  • Inhibiting ALDH1A3-mediated pathways slows the growth of mesenchymal glioma stem cells and might provide a promising therapeutic approach for glioblastomas with a mesenchymal signature.

"Overall, our data suggest that a novel signaling mechanism underlies the transformation of proneural glioma stem cells to mesenchymal-like cells and their maintenance as stem-like cells," Nakano says. Currently, their discoveries are in provision patent application, led by the Technology Licensing Office at University of Pittsburgh.


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Contact: Darrell E. Ward
Darrell.Ward@osumc.edu
614-293-3737
Ohio State University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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