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New Cancer Regulation Pathway Discovered by Research Team

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New Cancer Regulation Pathway Discovered by Research Team

A research team from the University of Florida have determined a molecular pathway closely linked to the deadly proliferation of the cancerous cells of glioblastoma, a form of cancer that is considered to be the most malignant form of brain cancer. The study will be  published shortly in the journal EMBO Molecular Medicine. According to the researchers, their study could aid physicians towards a better understanding of cancer treatment, while also offering a new target for drugs against glioblastoma.

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According to the NCI (National Cancer Institute), approximately 23 thousand patients (13 thousand men and 10 thousand women) were diagnosed with brain and nervous system tumors in the past year alone. Estimates show that almost 50% of these patients have died since. The main author of the study, Florian Seibzehnrubl from University of Florida, collaborated with researchers from various disciplines, including pathology, immunology and neuroscience, from the United States and Germany.

Siebenzehnrubl affirms that glioblastoma is the most malignant type of nervous cell cancer, and one of the most common brain tumors in adults worldwide. He also mentions that currently there is no cure for glioblastoma, and the prognosis is very poor due to the fast proliferation of the cancerous cells, which can quickly spread throughout the whole brain. Glioblastoma is a chemotherapy-resistant tumor, and as such, even if surgery and irradiation are able to eradicate the initial tumor, most patients suffer from a recurrence shortly after existing therapy.

The current study reveals a new pathway, called ZEB1, which is responsible for metastases and chemotherapy resistance. Professor David Sandak, of the Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure philanthropy organisation, reports that ZEB1 is known to be found in various types of cancer, however little information is known about it being a transcription factor for brain tumors. “We are excited about the finding as it integrates a single regulatory pathway with multiple oncogenic mechanisms and provides promise for a new therapeutic target for glioma”, added Sandak.

Siebenzehnrubl says that patients who have the ZEB1 pathway active suffer from a more sever form of brain cancer than other patients. According to his report, the disease of patients with the ZEB1 pathway spreads more rapidly, is resistant to chemotherapy and causes an earlier death. Apparently, the ZEB1 protein is responsible for controlling the genetic information that passes through the pathway. However, unlike other proteins, the ZEB1 protein doesn’t have a specific receptor that can be targeted with drugs, making therapy against the pathway more difficult that previously thought.

As a conclusion, Siebenzehnrubl says that this study revealed a new target for brain cancer therapy. Further research is still needed in order to find if there are other pathways that are responsible for the regulation of these cancerous cells, due to the fact that the ZEB1 pathway is only present in approximately 50% of the cases of glioblastoma.