Targeting HOX genes to treat glioblastoma

BioTechniques News
Aisha Al-Janabi

A new potential treatment for the devastating brain cancer, glioblastoma, is ready for patient trials. 

Glioblastoma – also known as glioblastoma multiforme (GBM)– is one of the most common and devastating forms of brain cancer. A study recently published in BMC Cancer, delivers fresh hope for those with glioblastoma, which is currently difficult to treat.  

In the paper, a collaborative team of scientists from the University of Surrey, University of Leeds (both UK), University of Texas (TX, USA) and HOX Therapeutics – a startup rolled out from the University of Surrey – details the results of a 7-year research project that focused on HOX genes. 

“People who suffer from GBM have a five percent survival rate over a 5-year period – a figure that has not improved in decades. While we are still early in the process, our 7-year project offers a glimmer of hope for finding a solution to HOX gene dysregulation, which is associated with the growth of GBM and other cancers, and which has proven to be elusive as a target for so many years,” commented project lead, Hardev Pandha (University of Surrey).  

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The dysregulation of HOX genes has long been associated with glioblastoma. Ordinarily, HOX genes play a key role in fetal brain development, with their activity switched off at birth. If these genes are switched on again later in life, it can lead to the progression of cancer. 

“We desperately need new treatment avenues for these aggressive brain tumors. Targeting developmental genes like the HOX genes that are abnormally switched on in the tumor cells could be a novel and effective way to stop glioblastomas growing and becoming life-threatening,” explained Susan Short (University of Leeds), co-author of the study. 

The team focused on cell and animal models and discovered that the HTL-001 peptide can effectively target and inhibit HOX gene function. After safety testing, this peptide is now ready to move into patient trials. 

“This research will eventually lead to novel and effective treatments for both brain and other cancers where HOX gene over-expression is a clear therapeutic target,” concluded James Culverwell, CEO of HOX Therapeutics.  

The post Targeting <em>HOX</em> genes to treat glioblastoma appeared first on BioTechniques.

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