Researchers have recognized the proteins that drive cancer cells. Aiming and suppressing a specific protein called galectin1 could provide a more direct treatment for glioblastoma along with radiation therapy. In the coming future, stem cells and brain cancer will have a conflicting relationship.
Glioblastoma being the most common and aggressive cancerous brain tumor in adults, resists the treatment. It grows slowly and spreads quickly. While the available treatments such as surgery, radiation and chemotherapy can reduce the symptoms for the time. usually tumor grows back and cancer reappear.
In other words, not fully removing the roots will allow the weed to grow back no matter how low you have cut them.
Getting to the root of the problem
Among all cancerous cells, a few act as stem cells that reproduce themselves. Like normal stem cells they renew and sustain our organs and tissues. By focusing on the activity of the cells, researchers found a new way to restrict new tumors.
“What we found was really astonishing for us. After we inhibited the galectin1 protein, the brain tumors simply didn’t grow for several months,” says Arezu Jahani-Asl, an Associate Professor of Medicine at McGill University. “To improve patient response to therapy, we must exploit these newly identified vulnerabilities in cancer stem cells.”
The researchers discovered that a protein called galectin1 interacts with another protein called HOXA5 to control the genetic programs that direct cancer stem cell behavior. Hence, suppressing galectin1 in preclinical models, they found a major improvement in tumor response to radiation therapy. Therefore, resulting in increased lifespan.
By reviewing patients databases, researchers established that glioblastoma patients with low expression of galectin1 and HOXA5 proteins had best diagnosis. Collectively, these proteins along with another called STAT3 active mechanisms that helps a particularly aggressive type of glioblastoma.
Preparing for New Therapies:
The discovery explains the process that regulate cancer stem cells. The data provides evidence that target galectin1 protein. Along with radiation therapy, future clinical trials treating glioblastoma tumors can be done. Furthermore, with progress in gene therapy through CRISPR technology, comparison of the efficient ways to suppress the galectin1 and HOXA5 complex in brain is under research.
According to the researchers, the relationship between stem cells and brain cancer is quite promising despite lack of evidence. Hopefully, this will prove to be a standard treatment for brain tumor.