Childhood brain cancer develops in a child’s brain or the tissue and structures which are near to it. When the cells grow abnormally in the brain, it gives rise to pediatric brain tumors. A malignant pediatric brain tumor then becomes brain cancer.
According to the reports, every year around 20 Australian children die from an incurable brain tumor, Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG). The average age of diagnosis for DIPG is just seven years. There are no effective treatments, and almost all children die from the disease, usually within one year of diagnosis.
But worry not. A new study has revealed that inhibiting a key enzyme that controls a large network of proteins important in cell division and growth leads the way for a new class of drugs that could stop a deadly brain cancer from growing.
The study which was published in the journal Nature Communications has shown that chemically inhibiting the enzyme PRMT5 can suppress the growth of glioblastoma cells.
Cellular Senescence Can Also Suppress Brain Cancer
According to the researchers, inhibition of PRMT5 led to cell senescence, similar to what happens to cells during aging when cells lose the ability to divide and grow. This cellular senescence can also be a powerful tool for the tumor suppression mechanism which can effectively stop the unrelenting division of cancer cells and thus it can be prevented from spreading across the body.
Speaking to the media, researcher Cheryl Arrowsmith from the University of Toronto said, “By inhibiting one protein, PRMT5, we were able to affect a cascade of proteins involved in cell division and growth”.
He further added, “The traditional way of stopping cell division has been to block one protein. This gives us a new premise for the future development of novel, more precise therapies”.
For the study, the team tested a group of new experimental small molecules designed to specifically inhibit key cellular enzymes being developed and studied to see if any would stop the growth of glioblastoma brain tumor cells in the laboratory.
Brain Cancer – Here’s What You Need To Know
The study showed that the brain tumor cells were isolated from patients’ tumors and grown in the laboratory in a way that preserved the unique properties of cancer stem cells.
“We have found that specific molecules — precursors to actual therapeutic drugs –inhibited the same enzyme, PRMT5, stopping the growth of a large portion of these patient-derived cancer stem cells,” one of the study author was quoted as saying.
However, the researchers also cautioned that actual treatments for patients are many years away, and require development and testing of clinically appropriate and safe versions of PRMT5 inhibitors that can access the brain.
Molecular Signature for the Tumour Cells
According to the reports, the researchers also examined the molecular features of the patient-derived glioblastoma cells by comparing those that responded well to those that did not respond as well.
The study authors found a different molecular signature for the tumor cells that responded. In the future, this could lead to specific tumor biomarkers, which could help in identifying those patients who will respond best to this new class of drugs.