Targeting the body’s internal clock to treat glioblastoma

Friday 12 January 2018

Researchers have discovered that the circadian rhythm, also known as a person's 'internal clock', could hold the answers to develop new therapies for glioblastoma

A person's internal clock plays a major role in human health, as it influences one's sleeping patterns, eating habits, and energy levels. Researchers at Texas A&M University have observed a link between an individual's internal clock and glioblastomas.

Glioblastoma is an aggressive type of brain tumour that affects approximately 74,000 individuals across the world, annually. The current standard of treatment for this tumour type consists of surgical removal of the tumour, accompanied with radiation therapy and chemotherapy.

Previous research has demonstrated that a particular protein, called p38 MAPK, plays a significant role in the aggressive and highly invasive nature of a glioblastoma. A recently published study, led by Dr Charles S. Goldsmith, reported that a person's internal clock regulates the activity of p38 MAPK.

The regulation of p38 MAPK is disrupted in tumour cells, making it an attractive target for treatment. However, drugs used to block the activity of p38 MAPK are highly toxic.

With p38 MAPK being controlled by the body's internal clock, it is a good candidate for chronochemotherapy. Chronochemotherapy involves treating cancer at specific times of the day to mimic the normal activity of p38 MAPK.

“We found that an inhibitor of p38 MAPK activity would make the cells behave less invasively, and if you can control the invasive properties, you can improve prognosis," said Dr David Earnest, co-author of the study.

The findings from this research suggest that if the drug used to block p38 MAPK was given at appropriate time intervals, it could be more effective and less toxic.

While this research looks promising, it is still in its early stages and further research using animal models needs to be conducted before this can move into clinical trials.

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