APR 14, 2021 11:56 AM PDT

Fighting back against medulloblastoma with naturally-occurring compound

Renewed hope for young children with medulloblastoma comes in the form of a research paper published from the Queen Mary University of London illustrating a technique to prevent brain tumor growth. The study’s findings have been published in the journal Nature Communications and could change the future cancer treatment of children with brain cancer. 

The study, funded by Brain Tumor Research, looks at the ability of the naturally occurring compound called inositol hexaphosphate (IP6) to inhibit medulloblastoma when combined with traditional chemotherapy.  

Lead researcher Professor Silvia Marino from the Brain Tumour Research Centre of Excellence at the Queen Mary University of London said: "Medulloblastoma occurs in four distinct subgroups (WNT, SHH, G3 and G4). Despite our growing knowledge of the molecular differences between these subgroups, current options are surgery together with radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy for all patients. We desperately need to understand the key molecular events driving tumor growth in each subgroup to design new, less toxic, targeted treatments."

Medulloblastoma affects mostly children and is the most common form of brain cancer in young people. Although 70% of patients with this kind of cancer survive if treatment begins before the tumor has spread, it is almost always fatal in cases of recurrent tumors.

"G4 medulloblastoma is the least understood of all subgroups, despite being the most common and associated with poor prognosis. We have identified a novel way that this type of medulloblastoma is able to adapt its metabolism and grow uncontrollably. Significantly, we have also shown how this energy supply can be blocked. These exciting results bring the hope of developing new targeted treatments for patients with this aggressive pediatric brain tumor."

Hugh Adams, Head of Stakeholder Relations at Brain Tumour Research, adds to the excitement, saying: "These very exciting results reveal a new way for epigenetics to control metabolism within tumor cells. Clinical trials are now required to test the ability of combining IP6 with chemotherapy to treat G4 medulloblastoma, offering promise to a particularly vulnerable group of patients. It is great news and brings some much-needed hope for the future. There is still some way to go but we hope that a clinical trial could be up and running in the near future. Brain tumors kill more children and adults under the age of 40 yet, historically, just 1% of the national cancer spend has been allocated to this devastating disease. Brain Tumour Research is determined to change this."

Sources: Nature Communications, Science Daily

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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