AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 27, Number 2, 2018

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Study Suggests Well-Known Growth Suppressor Actually Fuels Lethal Brain Cancers

Research Points to Potential Treatment Target That Lacks a Workable Drug

 

Scientists report finding a potentially promising treatment target for aggressive and deadly high-grade brain cancers like glioblastoma. But they also say the current lack of a drug that hits the molecular target keeps it from being advanced for testing as a therapeutic strategy for patients with few treatment options.

Researchers at the Cincinnati Children’s Cancer and Blood Diseases Institute point to a protein that helps regulate cell metabolism called AMPK (AMP-activated protein kinase). Their data suggest AMPK is a key driver of the mostly untreatable brain cancers, and blocking it may produce therapeutic benefit for very ill patients.

But the finding also challenges the scientific status quo regarding AMPK. This is because current research literature characterizes it as a cancer suppressor, according to the study’s senior investigators, Biplab Dasgupta, PhD, and first author Rishi Raj Chhipa, PhD—both scientists in the Division of Oncology at Cincinnati Children’s. 

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