A team of researchers from the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute discovered that those genes involved in the circadian rhythms in humans might be the target of therapies, and could become a strategy in combating brain cancer, and even its deadliest form, the glioblastoma.
A gene related to circadian rhythms in humans, also involved in the survival of brain cancer cells
The study’s report, published earlier today in the Scientific Reports journal, talks about a subtype of a particular gene which also helps the cancer cells survive, even though its primary function is related to human circadian rhythms.
“The world is desperately seeking new treatments for glioblastoma, and no one has ever before pointed to this gene as a target upon which to base therapies,” stated Zhi Sheng, a professor at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, and the study’s leading author.
“We have found that inhibiting this gene may inhibit cancer stem cells from renewing themselves and differentiating into glioblastoma cells, which we suspect may be a hallmark of this very persistent cancer. More research is needed before a treatment can be designed, but our early, basic science results are promising,” Sheng added.
Blocking the genes associated with circadian rhythms may be helpful in combating brain cancer
Patients with glioblastoma, the most lethal form of brain cancer, do not live more than 15 months after diagnosis, so coming up with some adequate therapies for these people is mandatory, Sheng thinks.
However, in their study, the researchers observed that when an enzyme produced by one of the “casein kinase 1 gene family” is blocked the brain cancer cells stop proliferating, while the tumors are inhibited. The scientists conducted their experiments on mice.
“Blocking this gene effectively killed brain cancer stem cells,” Sheng concluded.
The team also examined two already-available drugs that block that specific gene from activating the circadian rhythms and found out that one of them is promising in killing glioblastoma stem cells.