Learning to Silence Incurable Brain Cancer Genes

MRI glioblastoma GBM

What You Need to Know: A team from Northwestern University (USA) is the first to demonstrate delivery of a drug that turns off a critical gene in the complex cancer known as glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). While not ready for routine human use, the drug appears to significantly increase survival rates among animals with the deadly disease.

Background: Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is an aggressive and incurable brain cancer. You may recall that it took the life of US Senator Edward Kennedy, and will strike about 13,000 Americans each year.

Why I Am Excited: Investigators delivered a non-toxic drug through an intravenous injection, increasing survival by nearly 20 percent, with tumors reduced by a factor of three to four. Using highly adaptable spherical nucleic acids, the researchers specifically targeted a gene associated with GBM and turned it off in a live animal. Mirkin and colleagues designed a nucleic acid sequence to match the target gene, one that is related to GBM’s resistance to conventional therapies. The investigators thus provide proof-of-concept for an innovative technique that someday may be aimed at brain, lung, colon, breast, and other tumors. I’m Dr. Michael Hunter, and that’s the breakthrough cancer treatment of the day.

The small print: The material presented herein is informational only, and is not designed to provide specific guidance for an individual. Please check with a valued health care provider with any questions or concerns. As for me, I am a Harvard- , Yale- and UPenn-educated radiation oncologist, and I practice in the Seattle, WA (USA) area. I feel genuinely privileged to be able to share with you. If you enjoyed today’s offering, please consider clicking the follow button at the bottom of this page.

Available now: Understand Colon Cancer in 60 Minutes; Understand Brain Glioma in 60 Minutes. Both can be found at the Apple Ibooks store. Coming Soon for iPad:  Understand Breast Cancer in 60 Minutes; Understand Colon Cancer in 60 Minuteable now: Understand Colon Cancer in 60 Minutes; Understand Brain Glioma in 60 Minutes. Thank you.

Reference: SA Jensen, et al. Spherical Nucleic Acid Nanoparticle Conjugates as an RNAi-Based Therapy for Glioblastoma. Science Translational Medicine, 2013l 5(209).

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Harvard AB Yale MD UPenn Radiation Oncology Radiation Oncologist, Seattle area

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