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Neurosciences and Behavioral Health Center

Dealing With the Deadliest Brain Cancer

Glioblastoma, the deadliest of brain cancers, is extremely difficult to treat because it is aggressive, resourceful, and adaptable. It spreads like ivy, and in the end, it is always fatal.

UVA’s Benjamin W. Purow, MD, has identified a way that could possibly hinder gliobastoma’s path - an enzyme that appears to control multiple signaling pathways in glioblastoma cells. And he’s found a compound - a drug that’s already gone through several clinical trials in humans - that can suppress those signaling pathways. 

The enzyme Purow identified is not the typical protein kinase associated with cancer. Instead, he has focused on Diacylglycerol kinase alpha, a lipid kinase that generates a group of phospholipids. The small molecule has not only appeared to frustrate glioblastoma in the tested mice, but it may also offer other benefits including revving up the immune system. This benefit could potentially boost the effectiveness of cancer vaccines and other immunotherapies.

“We have a lot of testing to do, but having discovered this compound will allow us to get to patient clinical trials much faster, so that’s exciting,” says Purow.

Within this novel finding, they are also finding toxicity to other cancers like melanoma. “Pretty much every cancer line we’ve tried, we’ve seem some good effect,” says Purow.

This story was taken from the online journal Innovation.


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