The new method has been proposed by researchers at Karolinska Institutet, after studies using mice showed that the combination treatment resulted in a significant suppression in tumour growth. The study, published in PNAS, also questions a hypothesis within the research field that could result in potentially harmful wrong treatment of children with neuroblastoma.
Neuroblastoma affects the peripheral nervous system in children and is a
tumour disease with different facets. A number of these tumours
disappear naturally and others respond well to the treatment
available. There are however some types of neuroblastoma that are very
aggressive and, in many cases, do not respond to treatment. Mortality
among these high-risk patients is high and there is therefore a
substantial requirement for new and efficient methods of treatment.
During the study, the researchers treated mice with the substance
AZA, which blocks and eliminates methyl groups from the DNA of cancer
cells, aiming to activate genes that fight the origins of neuroblastoma.
AZA was then combined with treatment with retinoic acid (RA), a
substance that has the capacity to make certain tumour cells
differentiate, mature, into harmless nerve cells.
Neither AZA nor RA could individually suppress the growth of
high-risk tumours, but the combination treatment resulted in a
significant suppression in tumour growth in the mice.
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