Molecule Nutlin-3a activates a signal inducing cell death and senescence in primary brain tumors

IDIBELL researchers at UB have tested this molecule antagonist of MDM2, a protein active in brain tumors New therapeutic targets Article reference

IDIBELL researchers at UB have tested this molecule antagonist of MDM2, a protein active in brain tumors Researchers of Apoptosis and Cancer Group of the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL) have found that a small molecule, Nutlin-3a, an antagonist of MDM2 protein, stimulates the signalling pathway of another protein, p53. By this way, it induces cell death and senescence (loss of proliferative capacity) in brain cancer, a fact that slows its growth. These results open the door for MDM2 agonists as new treatments for glioblastomas. The study has been published in the journal

PLOS One.

Glioblastoma multiforme is the most common brain tumour in adults and the most aggressive. Despite efforts on new treatments and technological innovation in neurosurgery, radiation therapy and clinical trials of new therapeutic agents, most patients die two years after diagnosis. Avelina Tortosa, IDIBELL and University of Barcelona (UB) researcher, coordinator of the study, explained that one objective of her group is “to find substances that sensitize tumour cells to radiotherapy for more efficient treatments”.

New therapeutic targets

There is evidence that several genetic alterations promote the growth, invasion and resistance to stimuli that induce programmed cell death (apoptosis). In this sense, the pilot project TCGA (The Cancer Genome Atlas) has sequenced the genome of up to 25 glioblastomas noting that 14% of patients have an increased expression of MDM2 and 35% had alterations in p53 expression (apoptosis-inducing). That’s why research is now focused on the development of new therapeutic strategies that target the apoptosis in gliomas.

Article reference

Villalonga-Planells R, Coll-Mulet L, Martínez-Soler F, Castaño E, Acebes J-J, Giménez-Bonafé P, Gil J and Tortosa, A. (2011) Activation of p53 by Nutlin-3a Induces Apoptosis and Cellular Senescence in Human Glioblastoma Multiforme. PLoS ONE 6(4): e18588. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0018588

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