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Researchers discover new way to kill pediatric brain tumors
Date:2/9/2010

cular Imaging Center at Washington University. The results appear this month in the journal Cancer Research.

Cucurbitacin-I, the compound that led scientists to STAT3, is a plant steroid. It belongs to a family of bitter-tasting compounds previously identified as inhibitors of STAT3. Gutmann says cucurbitacin-I is likely too toxic to be suitable for use in clinical trials at this time.

After the successful robotic test of cucurbitacin-I, researchers showed that STAT3, which turns on and off the activity of a number of genes, is unusually active in NF1 tumor cells. Further investigation revealed that STAT3 activity is regulated by another gene very familiar to Gutmann: the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR).

Gutmann's laboratory linked mTOR and the processes it controls to NF1 years ago. The new connection between STAT3 and the mTOR pathway makes STAT3 the last link in a chain of molecules that take growth-promoting signals from the cell membrane to the nucleus. Gutmann says he is encouraged by the possibility that scientists might be able to decipher the genetic program controlled by STAT3 in order to develop more refined treatments for tumors in patients with NF1.

"We went in with a 'we don't know enough' approach, let's try 'ready, fire, aim,' and it paid off," he says.


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Contact: Michael C. Purdy
purdym@wustl.edu
314-286-0122
Washington University School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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