Scientists from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) have discovered a potential combination treatment for glioblastoma, the most lethal form of brain cancer in adults. David Nathanson, a member of UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, led the three-year study, which found depriving glioblastoma cells of key nutrients prevented the cancerous cells from growing larger.
The combination treatment was
effective in mice when manipulating sugar metabolism with the US Food &
Drug Administration (FDA)-approved drug Erlotinib against EGFR, a surface
protein existing in the most common glioblastoma.
Researchers conducted the study
using 19 human glioblastoma cells from different people, with the cells being
implanted in the mice to analyse the effectiveness of the drug combination
It was found that the Erlotinib
treatment reduced sugar uptake in most of glioblastoma, weakening the brain
tumour. Nathanson and his team exploited the vulnerable tumour with another
drug called Idasanutlin, which activates the p53 protein, triggering the
regression of the tumour in mice.
This finding builds on previous
research by Nathanson, which determined that EGFR genetic alterations increases
sugar uptake in brain cancers. It was also found they could not directly attack
sugar metabolism in the brain, as normal brain tissue requires sugar to
The next stage of research will
involve undertaking a clinical trial, which will involve testing the combination
treatment on people with glioblastoma. Eventually, researchers intend to design
a new strategy that involves this combination treatment, with the aim to attack
and kill the glioblastoma altogether.
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