AUG 23, 2019 6:27 AM PDT

New hope for children's brain cancer DIPG

New research published in Nature Communications provides insight on a potential treatment for an aggressive form of brain cancer called Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Gliomas (DIPG) which usually affects children under 10. There is currently no standard of care for DIPG as the tumor that grows in the brain stem is inoperable; and while the number of patients affected in the U.S. is only approximately 300 annually, most patients do not survive more than a year after diagnosis.

The research comes from a collaboration between scientists at Yale University, University of Iowa, and the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), an affiliate of City of Hope. It identifies a pathway that could disrupt the cellular process of DIPG.

DIPG develops in part because of a genetic mutation called PPM1D which affects cell growth and cell stress response. The team behind the study figured out a way to directly target PPM1D via the metabolite called NAD.

"This is really an amazing new way to attack this cancer. We found that the mutated gene PPM1D essentially sets the stage for its own demise," said senior author of the study, Michael Berens, Ph.D., a TGen Deputy Director, head of TGen's DIPG research.

"Our study's potential translational impact should lead to clinical trials and renewed hope for these families who face such a difficult diagnosis for their child," said co-senior author Charles Brenner, Ph.D., Chairman of Biochemistry at the University of Iowa.

Children diagnosed with DIPG typically do not live longer than a year after diagnosis. Photo: Pixabay

Their investigations arose because typical treatments for adult gliomas were not producing the desired results; this urged the researchers to look at the tumors from a new angle, focusing on their vulnerabilities and the role of PPM1D.

As Science Daily reports, the team discovered that “mutated PPM1D silences a gene called NAPRT, which is key to the production of the NAD metabolite. With NAPRT unavailable, the cell switches to another protein needed to create NAD called NAMPT. By using a drug that inhibits the production of NAMPT, researchers found they could essentially starve to death those cancer cells with the PPM1D mutation.”

Another senior author Ranjit Bindra, M.D., Ph.D., Associate Professor of Therapeutic Radiology at the Yale Cancer Center, commented on the hope that the discovery brings. "It is such a devastating disease, and we have been so stymied in our progress for new DIPG therapies. Many drugs have been tested with no success at all. These findings now offer new hope for children with this truly terrible disease," he said.

Sources: Science Daily, Nature Communications

About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
NOV 09, 2020
Cancer
A Prognostic Expression Profile for Osteosarcoma
NOV 09, 2020
A Prognostic Expression Profile for Osteosarcoma
Tireless research goes into every cancer diagnostic tools and new therapy. Many types of cancer have made giant steps fo ...
NOV 07, 2020
Cancer
Newly identified biomarker sheds light on antiangiogenic drug responses
NOV 07, 2020
Newly identified biomarker sheds light on antiangiogenic drug responses
A study published last week in the journal EMBO Molecular Medicine provides insight into the molecular mechanisms t ...
NOV 21, 2020
Cancer
Hospital patients want processed meats removed from hospital menus
NOV 21, 2020
Hospital patients want processed meats removed from hospital menus
A survey published in the Journal of Hospital Management and Health Policy reports that most patients are in agreem ...
DEC 02, 2020
Immunology
A Shingles Vaccine for Cancer Patients
DEC 02, 2020
A Shingles Vaccine for Cancer Patients
Receiving a vaccine (usually in the form of an inactivated pathogen) triggers an immune response without the symptoms of ...
DEC 21, 2020
Cancer
Cancer survivors have a higher risk of developing subsequent primary cancers
DEC 21, 2020
Cancer survivors have a higher risk of developing subsequent primary cancers
New research published in JAMA has found that cancer survivors have a higher risk of developing subsequent primary cance ...
JAN 11, 2021
Cancer
Sentinel Nodes Could Reveal a Tumor's Prognosis
JAN 11, 2021
Sentinel Nodes Could Reveal a Tumor's Prognosis
For many diseases, the ability to quickly and effectively diagnose or prognose a patient is critical. If caught early on ...
Loading Comments...