A new compound discovered by scientists at Scripps Research could prove to be a powerful weapon in the fight against one of the most aggressive and deadly types of cancer. Like the cancer it fights, the compound is incredibly potent and selectively targets the cells that allow glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) to seize the brain quickly.
The research, which was published in a new article in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, explains how cancer cells resembling a GBM stem promote tumor growth while also helping in recurrences even after surgery Preventing these cells from doing their deadly work is crucial for successful treatment, and the new compound – which scientists have dubbed RIPGBM – does just that.
Glioblastomas are thought to be so deadly because stem cells that promote growth are highly resistant to the effects of chemotherapy and other traditional cancer treatments. This allows the cells to spread to new areas and even to generate new tumors after the removal of a successful tumor in surgery.
The GBM is therefore extremely deadly and, even if treatment options are available, it is generally considered incurable. The RIPGBM could change that because of its incredibly powerful effect on the cancer cells that it targets.
The researchers said that in laboratory tests, the drug has been shown to be over 40 times more effective at destroying GBM cells than the most popular prescription drug currently. The power of the RIPGBM is only felt by the cancer cells, which is important for the maintenance of otherwise healthy brain tissue. The compound effectively ignores non-cancerous brain cells when it flushes out tumor cells.
In the future, the drug will be subject to further testing and will hopefully lead to trials on humans.
"Our discovery of this compound and the cellular pathways it affects is a promising new strategy for the treatment of glioblastoma," said lead researcher Luke Lairson, PhD, in a statement. Let's hope he's right.