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Study Suggests Repurposing Anti-depressant Medication to Target Medulloblastoma
Date:8/24/2014

CINCINNATI, Aug. 24, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- An international research team reports in Nature Medicine a novel molecular pathway that causes an aggressive form of medulloblastoma, and suggests repurposing an anti-depressant medication to target the new pathway may help combat one of the most common brain cancers in children.

The multi-institutional group, led by scientists at Cancer and Blood Diseases Institute (CBDI) at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, publish their results in the journal's online edition on Aug. 24. The researchers suggest their laboratory findings in mouse models of the disease could lead to a more targeted and effective molecular therapy that would also reduce the harmful side effects of current treatments, which include chemotherapy, radiation or surgery.

"Although current treatments improve survival rates, patients suffer severe side effects and relapse tumors carry mutations that resist treatment," said lead investigator Q. Richard Lu, Ph.D., scientific director of the Brain Tumor Center, part of the CBDI at Cincinnati Children's. "This underscores an urgent need for alternative targeted therapies, and we have identified a potent tumor suppressor that could help a subset of patients with an aggressive form of medulloblastoma."

Using genetically-engineered mice to model human medulloblastoma, the authors identified a gene called GNAS that encodes a protein called Gsα. Gsα kicks off a signaling cascade that researchers found suppresses the initiation of an aggressive form of medulloblastoma driven by a protein called Sonic hedgehog – considered one of the most important molecules in tissue formation and development.

The scientists used an anti-depressant medication called Rolipram – approved for behavioral therapy for use in Europe and Japan – to treat
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SOURCE Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center
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