MAR 23, 2021 8:19 AM PDT

Examining the role that cholesterol plays in brain cancer

A study published recently in the journal Nature Communications reports on the role that cholesterol plays in the growth and metastasis of glioblastoma multiforme, an aggressive form of brain cancer. The study was led by VCU Massey Cancer Center researcher Suyun Huang, who has been investigating the mechanisms of brain cancer growth for years.

Huang’s findings show that a gene known as YTHDF2 is a key actor in the growth and spread of glioblastoma multiforme by way of the cancer-amplifying gene called EGFR. According the her, EGFR drives the overexpression of YTHDF2, which in turn increases cholesterol levels for the invasive growth and development of glioblastoma multiforme cells.

"These findings are exciting because we can potentially target YTHDF2 expression by using YTHDF2 small molecule inhibitors to control glioblastoma tumor growth and spread," says Huang, who is also a professor in the Department of Human and Molecular Genetics at VCU School of Medicine. "Our experiments also showed that we can stop the formation and growth of brain cancer cells by blocking YTHDF2 expression, so it could also be a powerful target for drug development."

As the most common type of adult malignant brain tumor, glioblastoma multiforme patients have an average survival of 14 months, making the need for new therapies more urgent than ever. Huang and her collaborators say that decoding the cellular signaling mechanisms is a step in the right direction.

"EGFR inhibition and cholesterol regulation are both promising strategies for GBM treatment," concludes Huang. "Our study offers an exciting new approach that could potentially work hand-in-hand with these strategies to regulate and treat GBM."

Sources: Nature Communications, Eureka Alert

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.
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