WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2010 A major breakthrough in how to target and destroy the most malignant and aggressive brain cancer cells has been made by researchers at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.
Scientists have identified a way to target and destroy Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) cells without harming healthy cells.
The finding allows for new possibilities in cancer research previously not known to be readily feasible.
"Treatment of patients with Glioblastoma multiforme is still a major challenge, as GBM is extremely difficult to manage," said Waldemar Debinski, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Brain Tumor Center of Excellence at Wake Forest Baptist. "Over the last 30 to 40 years, with all the cancer research efforts out there, we have only been able to extend the survival rate in these patients by about one month per decade of research. People who have this kind of cancer survive for an average of 14.5 months after diagnosis, although some with this form of cancer can live longer than that average. I don't think anyone would label this satisfactory progress."
Debinski, a professor of neurosurgery and senior investigator on the study, and colleagues have thus focused their efforts on finding a way to treat these tumors something potentially less toxic and invasive than surgery, radiation and chemotherapy in the form of molecular targeting.
Their latest achievement, recently featured on the cover of the journal Genes and Cancer, is the result of years of research funded by the National Cancer Institute.
Almost 20 years ago, Debinski and colleagues developed what Debinski has dubbed a "designer protein," a single-chain protein that is able to seek out and make its way into specific cells, such as cancer cells. The challenge, and most recent focus of the researchers' work, has been finding a way to program that protein, once inside the targeted cell, to locate and accumul
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Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center