S'pore scientists discover potential drug for deadly brain cancer

PHOTO: S'pore scientists discover potential drug for deadly brain cancer

SINGAPORE - A*STAR scientists have identified a biomarker of glioblastoma multiforme, the most lethal form of brain tumours in adults.

This in turn allowed them to target this biomarker and deplete it with a potential drug. By doing so, they were able to prevent the progression and relapse of the brain tumour.

Current therapies such as gamma radiation and surgical methods have proved to be inadequate in treating these brain tumours, which tend to re-grow from cancer stem cells and become extremely lethal.

Hence, this discovery can potentially prevent the progression and relapse of deadly brain tumours, A*STAR said.

"Malignant gliomas are a particularly devastating and lethal form of human brain cancer," said Dr Alan Colman, Executive Director of Singapore Stem Cell Consortium and a Principal Investigator at IMB.

"Evidence is accumulating that the persistence and chemo-resistance of this cancer is due to the presence of glioma stem cells (GSCs)," he explained.

The study showed that these GSCs express the biomarker microRNA-138, and that the targeted elimination of this RNA significantly reduced the growth and survival of GSCs in cell culture.

"This work highlights the possible significance of miR-138 as a prognostic biomarker and also suggests miR-138 synthesis as a target for therapeutic intervention," Dr Colman added.

Principal investigator Dr Prabha Sampath expressed hope that this finding will pave the way for the development of novel therapies, such as targeted drug designs, to treat the aggressive forms of brain cancer.