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UCLA researchers develop new way to screen for brain cancer stem cell killers
Date:10/11/2011

l, perhaps a protein that is causing it to grow or a gene that keeps it from dying. In this case, Kornblum said, the team was basically shooting in the dark because the biology of these brain cancer stem cells is largely unknown.

"When brain cancer stem cells were first discovered, we all realized rapidly that we would need to find drugs that attack these cells specifically, because they're resistant to our conventional therapies," Kornblum said. "We needed a way to kill these stem cells."

UCLA's high-throughput screening technology is capable of screening as many as 100,000 compounds in a single day. Researchers generally develop cancer cells lines and then create an assay, a procedure in molecular biology to test or measure the activity of a drug or biochemical compound in an organic sample, in this case the cancer cells.

The cells are loaded into plates with 384 wells each and the drugs are added. The plates are about the size of the palm of an adult hand. The computerized, robotic screening system executes the process from start to finish, adding the compounds sitting in the tiny wells in the plates to the cancer cells, located in corresponding assay plates.

In this study, Kornblum and his team had a few clues to help them in narrowing down potential candidates that kill brain cancer stem cells. One method they used was based on a prior discovery by Jonsson Cancer Center researchers. The researchers had identified genes that correlate with how aggressive a brain tumor is, so Kornblum decided to try to find potential drug candidates that might reduce the expression of these genes. Another approach was to figure out which of the molecules killed brain cancer stem cells with a greater potency than they attacked other cells within glioblastoma.

To grow his cell lines, Kornblum used human tissue taken from UCLA patients diagnosed with glioblastoma. He knew that a certain method of culturing brain cancer cells resulted in
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Contact: Kim Irwin
kirwin@mednet.ucla.edu
310-206-2805
University of California - Los Angeles Health Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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