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Protein stops growth of brain tumor, OHSU study shows

PORTLAND, Ore. - A protein developed by scientists at Oregon Health & Science University blocks the growth of glioblastoma, an aggressive and deadly brain tumor, in laboratory rats, a new study shows.

Herstatin inhibits the activation of a family of enzymes responsible for signaling inside tumor cells that tells the cells to proliferate and display other malignant properties, said Gail Clinton, Ph.D., professor of biochemistry and molecular biology in the OHSU School of Medicine who co-authored the study appearing this month in the journal Clinical Cancer Research.

"The growth is completely blocked in the intracranial model," said Clinton, a member of the OHSU Cancer Institute.

Over-expression of the epidermal growth factor (EGF) receptors results in a cascade of signals in the glioblastoma cells that drives their growth. But herstatin, a naturally occurring product, blocks growth of the cells by binding to EGF receptors and turning signaling off.

Clinton said human clinical trials for herstatin could begin as early as next year. In fact, the technology is part of a patent portfolio that OHSU has licensed exclusively to San Francisco-based pharmaceutical company Receptor BioLogix Inc., which is developing herstatin as a cancer therapeutic for a variety of cancer types under the name Dimercept.

According to the nonprofit Central Brain Tumor Registry of the United States, glioblastomas account for the majority - 52 percent - of all gliomas, which are tumors that arise from glial cells and include astrocytomas, oligodendrocytomas, ependymomas, mixed gliomas, malignant gliomas NOS (nitric oxide synthase), and neuroepithelial tumors. Glioblastomas make up 23 percent of all brain and central nervous system tumors.

Between 1995 and 1999, there were 8,690 reported cases of glioblastomas in the United States. The median age at diagnosis was 65, and men make up the majority of cases. The disease is most deadly within the first y
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Contact: Jonathan Modie
modiej@ohsu.edu
503-494-8231
Oregon Health & Science University
27-Jan-2005


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