Dartmouth Researchers Identify Potential Therapeutic Target for Deadly Brain Cancer

Finding may help develop precision medications

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Newswise — (Lebanon, NH, 4/8/14) Researchers from the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth will present a scientific poster on Tuesday, April 8, 2014 at the American Association of Cancer Researchers conference in San Diego, CA. The research identifies a potential characteristic for predicting outcome in a deadly form of brain cancer known as glioblastoma multiforme.

Existing therapies based on genetic information have failed to effectively treat glioblastomas. Therefore, researchers are aggressively looking to find new molecular targets for this aggressive brain tumor.

Dartmouth researchers previously demonstrated that STK17A is a protein that is induced when DNA is damaged by the chemotherapeutic drug cisplatin. Biopsied samples of glioblastoma tumors contain high level of STK17A. And the more STK17A a tumor has the poorer the outcome appears to be. Increased levels of STK17A are correlated with shorter survival time for glioblastoma patients.

In addition, when researchers tried to “turn off” the STK17A protein, they observed a reduced rate of cancer cell growth. Reducing STK17A also interfered with tumor cells’ ability to move around and invade other areas of the brain.

Further investigation is required to understand the precise role of STK17A in glioblastoma, but the finding may reveal a potential Achilles’ Heel for this deadly type of brain tumor that often times seems unstoppable.

The research was conducted through the Program of Experimental and Molecular Medicine at Dartmouth College. The research team for the project included Pingpin Mao, Mary P. Jardine, Lynne M. Niemaszyk, Eric Yang, Gilbert J. Rahme, Sarah J. Freemantle, and Michael J. Spinella.

Poster #4605, “STK17A, Implications in Glioblastoma Multiforme,” will be in Hall A-E Section 34 from 1:00-5:00 pm PT on April 8, 2014 at AACR Conference.

About Norris Cotton Cancer Center at Dartmouth-Hitchcock
Norris Cotton Cancer Center combines advanced cancer research at Dartmouth and the Geisel School of Medicine with patient-centered cancer care provided at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, at Dartmouth-Hitchcock regional locations in Manchester, Nashua, and Keene, NH, and St. Johnsbury, VT, and at 12 partner hospitals throughout New Hampshire and Vermont. It is one of 41 centers nationwide to earn the National Cancer Institute’s “Comprehensive Cancer Center” designation. Learn more about Norris Cotton Cancer Center research, programs, and clinical trials online at cancer.dartmouth.edu.

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