The results of a seven-year research project suggest there could be a new approach to treating one of the most common and devastating forms of brain cancer in adults, glioblastoma multiforme (GBM).
In a peer-reviewed study published by BMC Cancer, scientists from the University of Surrey demonstrated that a short chain amino acid (HTL-001 peptide) is effective in targeting and inhibiting the function of a family of genes responsible for GBM growth – the Hox genes. The study was conducted on cellular and animal models.
The HTL-001 peptide used in the study has undergone safety tests and is suitable for patient trials. These trials are now being considered in GBM and other types of cancer.
Hardev Pandha, project lead and professor of medical oncology at the University of Surrey, said:
“People with glioblastoma multiforme have a 5 percent survival rate over a five-year period — a number that has not improved in decades. And while we’re still early in this process, our seven-year project offers a ray of hope for Finding a solution to Hox gene dysregulation, linked to the growth of GBM and other cancers, has proven elusive as a goal for many years.”
Ironically, the Hox genes are responsible for the healthy development of brain tissue, but they are usually silenced at birth after vigorous activity in the developing fetus. However, if they are improperly operated again, their activity can lead to the development of cancer. Dysregulation of the Hox gene in GBM has long been recognized.
The project was implemented in collaboration with the universities of Surrey, Leeds and Texas, and HOX Therapeutics, a University of Surrey start-up based in the university’s Surrey Research Park complex.
Professor Susan Short, co-author of the study from the University of Leeds, said:
“We urgently need new treatment approaches for aggressive brain tumors. Targeting growth genes such as HOX genes that are abnormally turned on in cancer cells could be a new and effective way to stop the growth of gliomas and threaten life.”
James Culverwell, CEO of HOX Therapeutics, said, “HOX Therapeutics is excited to be involved in this project and we hope that with our continued support, this research will eventually lead to new and effective therapies for both brain and other cancers where HOX gene expression is widespread—expression is a therapeutic target. Clear.
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