Protein May Aid the Formation of Glioblastoma Tumors

More knowledge about deadly glioblastoma tumors has been discovered.

In a recent study, researchers discovered that glioblastoma tumors need a protein called Oncostatin M Receptor (OSMR) in order to form.

Researchers evaluated human brain tumor stem cells from patients with glioblastoma, according to the study published in Nature Neuroscience. Glioblastoma cells only need 1 tumor stem cell in order to grow a new tumor.

Researchers found that by blocking OSMR activity in the stem cells, tumors would not form in mouse brains.

"Being able to stop tumour formation entirely was a dramatic and stunning result," said Michael Rudnicki, OC, PhD, FRSC, senior co-corresponding author of the study. "It means that this protein is a key piece of the puzzle, and could be a possible target for future treatments."

Researchers studied 339 tumor samples from human patients with glioblastoma and found the higher the OSMR expression, the faster the patient died. This was also confirmed in mouse studies. Mice injected with human brain tumor stem cells that had low OSMR expression lived 30% longer than those with normal OSMR expression.

According to the study, researchers also found that the epidermal growth factor receptor EGFRvIII needs to bind with OSMR prior to sending out tumor-forming signals.

Researchers believe that this new information could lead to more effective treatment for glioblastoma, as well as other cancers with highly amplified EGFR expression such as breast, lung, and cervical cancers.

"This study raises the exciting prospect of potential new targets for a lethal disease," said Azad Bonni, MD, PhD, senior co-corresponding author of the study. "The next step is to find small molecules or antibodies that can shut down the protein OSMR or stop it from interacting with EGFR. But any human treatment targeting this protein is years away."