Finding may hold key to treating malignant brain tumors


ORLANDO, Fla. — A new finding by biomedical researchers at the University of Central Florida could lead to treatment of one of the most common and aggressive brain tumors in adults.

It is the second recent discovery by UCF scientists — working with other local researchers including doctors at Florida Hospital
— that may hold the key to new treatments for glioblastoma multiforme,
or GBM, the type of malignant brain tumor that the late Sen. Edward Kennedy battled.

In the latest finding, researchers have found a
protein, called TRPC6, that is strongly expressed in brain tumor cells.
Further research found that they could stop the growth and spread of
tumors by knocking down the effect of this protein.

“TRPC6 is a key mediator of tumor growth of GBM.
This protein makes the cancer more aggressive,” said Dr. Sic L. Chan,
assistant professor of neuroscience at UCF. “It may be a promising
therapeutic target in the treatment of GBM.”

GBM is difficult to treat because it quickly spreads
cancerous cells to other parts of the brain. About 10,000 cases are
diagnosed in the United States each year. There is no cure, and about half of all patients don’t survive for more than a year after diagnosis.

Current treatments, which have limited success,
consist of surgically removing the tumor from the brain, followed by
radiation therapy and chemotherapy.

“Malignant gliomas remain one of the most devastating cancers despite recent advancements,” said Srinivasulu Chigurupati,
a UCF research fellow who was part of the research team. “This is very
exciting because our work will help patients in the future.”

Chan and his team ran several experiments with cancerous brain tissue obtained from Florida Hospital in Orlando and Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina. Local physicians on the team included Sergey Bushnev from the Florida Hospital Cancer Institute.

Bushnev was also part of a local team of doctors and
researchers that in November identified a gene marker that may one day
significantly improve survival in patients with GBM.

That research team, led by Florida Hospital neurosurgeon Dr. Melvin Field, found a specific gene present in brain tumor stem cells that is not present in normal, nontumor stem cells.

The latest findings will be published in January edition of Cancer Research, a prestigious medical journal.