Tuesday, July 2, 2013

FAQ: Are there any new targets for the treatment of brain cancer?

Scientists at the University of Virginia Cancer Center have identified a potential target for the treatment of glioblastoma; the most prevalent form of brain cancer. This cancer is also one of the most aggresive, and, despite intensive study, effective treatments have been elusive. It is hoped with the publication of: 'Diacylglycerol Kinase Is a Critical Signaling Node and Novel Therapeutic Target in Glioblastoma and Other Cancers' that a number of new treatments will be revealed.

One reason that cancers, such as glioblastoma, have evaded treatment is that they seem to use multiple pathways to achieve continual growth. As a result, inhibition of one pathway is insufficient to have the desired growth halting effect. The authors of the paper, which was recently published in Cancer Discovery, sought a target which regulates multiple pathways. They found that inhibiting diacylglycerol kinase alpha (DGK alpha), which had been linked to several pathways related to cancer biology, led to cell death in glioblastoma cells!

Brain MRI
A single image of a brain using MRI. A bright blue color
where cancer metastasizes
by Dr. Leon Kaufman
Although there are a few small molecule inhibitors available for DGK alpha the search will now begin for additional candidate compounds. Kinase inhibitor screening is a job to which the PHERAstar microplate readers from BMG LABTECH are ideally suited. Regardless of the detection mode which you choose to use, the PHERAstar is an excellent reader for the high-throughput screening necessary to find inhibitors of DGK alpha or other kinase targets.