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Key Driver Behind Deadly Form Of Cancer Found

Update Date: Jan 09, 2016 01:31 PM EST

Among the deadliest cancers is Glioblastoma multiforme.

But it might be open to new treatment, due to research by scientists from the Salk Institute. They can now aim to fight the tumor cells of cancer, which kills patients in just 15 months. They can even use the growth to help in cancer treatment.

"This is a disease for which there has been practically no improvement in treatment outcome for years," Inder Verma, senior author of the paper, said in a press release. "It is clear that even if a surgeon removes 99.99 percent of a glioblastoma multiforme tumor, what is left behind will come back and grow into more tumor."

A transcription factor called nuclear factor kB (NF-kB), which was discovered to be the fundamental driver of the cancer cells in patients with glioblastoma multiforme, found that limiting NF-kB can reduce its growth and boost the survival rates.

"Our experiments confirmed that NF-kB is required for the cancer cell to proliferate," said Dinorah Friedmann-Morvinski, first author of the paper. "But now we have finally found a way to ameliorate the tumor to increase lifespan."

However, the treatment so far has only been used on mice, not on humans.

"So we asked how could we manipulate the system using pharmacology rather than genetics," Verma said.

By feeding mice a peptide called NBD, which blocks NF-kB growth when that gets activated by the immune system, scientists found that mice treated with NBD underwent a "doubled survival time" compared to the control group. But due to NBD's toxicity to the liver, the team needs to seek a similar, alternative treatment for humans.

"The ultimate goal is to block NF-kB, but because it turns on many genes -- at least 100-our aim became finding the handful of genes that directly affect tumor growth," Verma said. "Then we can be more selective in treatment."

The findings were published in the Jan. 8,2016 issue of Science Advances.

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