Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Scientific Community
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article

Common Genetic Pathway Could Be Conduit to Pediatric Tumor Treatment

Published: Monday, November 11, 2013
Last Updated: Monday, November 11, 2013
Bookmark and Share
Investigators have found a known genetic pathway to be active in many difficult-to-treat pediatric brain tumors called low-grade gliomas.

In laboratory studies, researchers found that the pathway, called mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), was highly active in pediatric low-grade gliomas, and that mTOR activity could be blocked using an experimental drug, leading to decreased growth of these tumors.

"We think mTOR could function as an Achilles heel," says study co-author Eric Raabe, M.D., Ph.D., an assistant professor of pediatrics, oncology and pathology at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center. "It drives cancer growth, but when mTOR is inhibited, the tumor falls apart." The work was described Nov. 7 in the journal Neuro-Oncology.

Overall, brain tumors affect more than 4,000 children each year in the United States, and they are the leading cause of cancer deaths in children, according to Raabe. Low-grade gliomas are the most common group of tumors of the central nervous system in children. Current treatments for these tumors include surgery and chemotherapy, which often cause significant side effects. Many of these tumors are located in areas like the optic pathway, where they can't be easily removed by surgery without causing damage, including blindness. In addition to vision loss, some of Raabe's patients have endured paralysis or learning problems as a result of the tumor or treatment.

"Even though these tumors are considered 'low grade' and not particularly aggressive, many patients suffer severe, life-altering symptoms, so we desperately need better therapies," says Raabe.

For the study, the Johns Hopkins investigators studied tissue samples from 177 pediatric low-grade gliomas, including the most common type -- tumors called pilocytic astrocytomas -- from patients treated at Johns Hopkins and other centers. They also tested the effect of blocking mTOR with an investigational agent known as MK8669 (ridaforolimus) in two pediatric low-grade glioma cell lines.

The mTOR pathway has been shown to be active in a variety of cancers, and drugs that block proteins in the pathway, such as rapamycin, are widely available. The pathway signals through two protein complexes, mTORC1 and mTORC2, which lead to increased cell growth and survival.

The researchers found activity of the mTORC1 pathway in 90 percent of low-grade gliomas studied, and 81 percent of tumors showed activity of both mTORC1 and mTORC2. Components of the mTOR pathway were more commonly found in tumors from optic pathways compared with those from other areas of the brain, according to Fausto Rodriguez , M.D., senior study author and assistant professor of pathology and oncology at Johns Hopkins.

The scientists also found that the mTOR-blocking drug caused up to a 73 percent reduction in cell growth over six days in one cell line, and up to a 21 percent decrease in cell growth over four days in a second cell line.

"Since the pathways are more active in some areas of the brain, compared with others, it suggests that the outcomes of drug treatments targeting those pathways may differ as well," says Rodriguez.

Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,800+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 4,000+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters

Sign In

Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Bad Luck of Random Mutations Plays Predominant Role in Cancer, Study Shows
Statistical modeling links cancer risk with number of stem cell divisions.
Tuesday, January 06, 2015
Cancer Leaves a Common Fingerprint on DNA
Chemical alterations to genes appear key to tumor development.
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Signals Found That Recruit Host Animals’ Cells, Enabling Breast Cancer Metastasis
Mouse studies suggest that blocking aid from white blood cells and stem cells could keep tumors contained.
Thursday, May 22, 2014
A Simple Blood Test May Catch Early Pancreatic Cancer
Currently, disease usually found too late to save lives.
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Tumor-suppressor Protein Gives Up Its Secrets
Discovery promises new targets for cancer drug design.
Friday, July 12, 2013
Cancer-Linked Fam190a Gene Found to Regulate Cell Division
Scientists have discovered that a little-described gene known as FAM190A plays a subtle but critical role in regulating the normal cell division process known as mitosis.
Thursday, July 04, 2013
Scientists Pair Blood Test and Gene Sequencing to Detect Cancer
Scientists have combined the ability to detect cancer DNA in the blood with genome sequencing technology in a test that could be used to screen for cancers, monitor cancer patients for recurrence and find residual cancer left after surgery.
Friday, November 30, 2012
Researchers Link New Molecular Culprit to Breast Cancer Progression
Johns Hopkins researchers have uncovered a protein “partner” commonly used by breast cancer cells to unlock genes needed for spreading the disease around the body.
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Lost Molecule is Lethal for Liver Cancer Cells in Mice
MicroRNA kills tumor cells and lets healthy cells live. Scientists at Johns Hopkins have discovered a potential strategy for cancer therapy by focusing on what’s missing in tumors.
Friday, June 12, 2009
Scientific News
New Class of RNA Tumor Suppressors Identified
Two short, “housekeeping” RNA molecules block cancer growth by binding to an important cancer-associated protein called KRAS. More than a quarter of all human cancers are missing these RNAs.
Mathematical Model Forecasts the Path of Breast Cancer
Chances of survival depend on which organs breast cancer tumors colonize first.
Exploring the Causes of Cancer
Queen's research to understand the regulation of a cell surface protein involved in cancer.
Nanocarriers May Carry New Hope for Brain Cancer Therapy
Berkeley lab researchers develop nanoparticles that can carry therapeutics across the brain blood barrier.
RNA-Based Drugs Give More Control Over Gene Editing
CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing technique can be transiently activated and inactivated using RNA-based drugs, giving researchers more precise control in correcting and inactivating genes.
University of Glasgow Researchers Make An Impact in 60 Seconds
Early-career researchers were invited to submit an engaging, dynamic and compelling 60 second video illuminating an aspect of their research.
Metabolic Profiles Distinguish Early Stage Ovarian Cancer with Unprecedented Accuracy
Studying blood serum compounds of different molecular weights has led scientists to a set of biomarkers that may enable development of a highly accurate screening test for early-stage ovarian cancer.
Dead Bacteria to Kill Colorectal Cancer
Scientists from Nanyang Technological University (NTU Singapore) have successfully used dead bacteria to kill colorectal cancer cells.
CRISPR-Cas9 Gene Editing: Check Three Times, Cut Once
Two new studies from UC Berkeley should give scientists who use CRISPR-Cas9 for genome engineering greater confidence that they won’t inadvertently edit the wrong DNA.
Genetically Engineering Algae to Kill Cancer Cells
New interdisciplinary research has revealed the frontline role tiny algae could play in the battle against cancer, through the innovative use of nanotechnology.

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,800+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,000+ scientific videos