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Scientists Discover Vulnerable Point of Glioblastoma Multiforme

Scientists discovered a vulnerable point of glioblastoma multiforme, according to a study published on June 4, 2018.

This study was conducted by the scientists at the Virginia Commonwealth University. They were successful in finding a weak point of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), which is the most common and deadly form of brain cancer. The details regarding how a mechanism that protects glioma stem cells can be potentially used for the development of new effective treatments for GBM was mentioned in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

A process by which cells get rid of unnecessary or dysfunctional components is known as autophagy. Those unnecessary components either might be toxic to the cells or could serve a protective role. It was demonstrated that resistance to anoikis, which is a form of programmed cell death (apoptosis) that occurs when cells detach from the extracellular matrix or the collection of molecules that helps support and protect cells within the body by glioma cells was allowed by protective autophagy. Moreover, gene known as MDA-9/Syntenin regulated this protective mechanism.

Paul B. Fisher said, “We discovered that when we blocked the expression of MDA-9/Syntenin, glioma stem cells lose their ability to induce protective autophagy and succumb to anoikis, resulting in cancer cell death.”  Researchers observed that protective autophagy is maintained by MDA-9/Syntenin when BCL2, a gene that regulates cell death is activated. Furthermore, increasing levels of autophagy, which is expected to be toxic to the cells is suppressed by MDA-9/Syntenin through epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) signaling.

Protective autophagy cannot be maintained by EGFR if MDA-9/Syntenin is absent. Through experiments, loss of protective biological functions in the absence of MDA-9/Syntenin was demonstrated by the scientists. The findings were then tested in mouse models of human stem cells.