Researchers find molecule that targets brain tumors

December 29, 2008

UC Davis Cancer Center researchers report today the discovery of a molecule that targets glioblastoma, a highly deadly form of cancer. The finding, which is published in the January 2009 issue of the European Journal of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging, provides hope for effectively treating an incurable cancer.

Glioblastoma is the most common and aggressive type of primary brain tumor in adults. It is marked by tumors with irregular shapes and poorly defined borders that rapidly invade neighboring tissues, making them difficult to remove surgically.

"These brain tumors are currently treated with surgery to remove as much of the tumor as possible followed by radiation to kill cancer cells left behind and systemic chemotherapy to prevent spread to nearby tissues," said Kit Lam, senior author of the study and UC Davis chief of hematology and oncology. "It is unfortunate that this approach does not extend survival significantly. Most patients survive less than one year."

To find new options for treating the disease, Lam and his colleagues began searching for a molecule that could be injected into a patient's bloodstream and deliver high concentrations of medication or radionuclides directly to brain tumor cells while sparing normal tissues. Through their study, they identified a molecule — called LXY1 — that binds with high specificity to a particular cell-surface protein called alpha-3 integrin, which is overexpressed on cancer cells.

They also tested the molecule's ability to target brain cancer by implanting human glioblastoma cells both beneath the skin and in the brains of mice. The researchers injected the mice with a radiolabeled version of LXY1 and, using near-infrared fluorescence imaging, showed that the molecule did preferentially bind to human glioblastoma cells in both locations.

"This outcome gives us great hope that we will be able to deliver targeted therapies to treat glioblastoma," said Lam.

Lam is planning to continue this work by repeating the experiments with powerful cancer treatments linked to the LXY1 molecule. They will begin with iodine-131, a form of radionuclide currently used to treat some cancers, as well as a nanoparticle, or "smart bomb," that would carry cancer-fighting drugs to diseased cells.

Source: University of California - Davis

Explore further: Standard purification process changes the structure of antibodies—and then changes them back

Related Stories

DNA-based nanodevices for molecular medicine

September 24, 2015

Researchers from Aalto University have published an article in the recent Trends in Biotechnology journal. The article discusses how DNA molecules can be assembled into tailored and complex nanostructures, and further, how ...

New method opens pathway to new drugs and dyes

September 2, 2015

Rice University scientists have developed a practical method to synthesize chemical building blocks widely used in drug discovery research and in the manufacture drugs and dyes.

Scientists create rice variety with high folate stability

September 22, 2015

Researchers from Ghent University succeeded in stabilizing folates in biofortified rice in order to prevent their degradation upon long term storage. They used two strategies: by linking folates with folate binding proteins ...

Student tackles labeling RNA without genetic modification

September 21, 2015

Overcoming limitations of super-resolution microscopy to optimize imaging of RNA in living cells is a key motivation for physics graduate student Takuma Inoue, who works in the lab of MIT assistant professor of physics Ibrahim ...

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

( -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Dec 29, 2008
I think you would get better results with a cool water drip! It's the ENERGY you want to limit, not the number of rapidly mitosising cells!

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.