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To combat deadly brain cancer, target the stem cells
Date:7/7/2011

lls."

In the current study, the authors use mouse models of glioma to show that glioma stem cells have elevated levels of nitric oxide synthase-2 (NOS2). This leads to exess production of NO, which, in turn, endows stem cells with the ability to growand seed tumors.

These findings have real clinical relevance, the researchers say. They found that high NOS2 levels correlate with decreased survival in patients with glioma. Moreover, treatments designed to block NOS2 in the brain slow the growth of brain tumors in mice.

Notably, NOS2 inhibitors have already been tested in clinical trials for other treatments. "The exciting part is the drugs have already been given to people," Eyler said, and it appears they have little toxicity.

NOS2 inhibitors could be a welcome addition to therapies in use for gliomas today. "If you target the tumor as a whole, you may get rid of most cells but leave the stem cells behind," Hjelmeland said. But if you only target cancer stem cells and leave the rest intact, tumors may continue to grow. By combining approaches, "you'll have a better therapy."

Eyler said she wouldn't be surprised if the nitric oxide pathway uncovered in glioma stem cells might also prove to be important in other forms of cancer. The researchers also continue to look for other pathways unique to cancer stem cells.


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Contact: Elisabeth Lyons
elyons@cell.com
617-386-2121
Cell Press
Source:Eurekalert

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