News of Note—Mapping brain tumors; relief for constrained airways; making KRAS-mutated cancers druggable

Head with brain in cupped hand
Identifying gene mutations in pediatric brain tumors could improve treatments, researchers believe.

Mapping tumor genes to improve treatment of childhood brain tumors

A report in The Oncologist reveals that 96% of cases of childhood gliomas possess genetic alterations that could help identify the best treatments for some patients. A team from the genomic profiling company Foundation Medicine sequenced both low-grade and high-grade gliomas from children of various ages. They found several frequently mutated genes, including BRAF and NF1—findings they believe could be used to improve the treatment of pediatric gliomas. (Release)

A new way to relieve airway constriction in asthma

A research team led by the University of Bonn in Germany has identified a new compound that relaxes the airways in mouse models of asthma for 24 hours. The compound, called FR, inhibits a protein called Gq, which contributes to chronic airway constriction. Administering FR as an aerosol spray to the animals provided long-lasting relief without negatively affecting blood pressure or heart rate, they reported in a paper published in the journal Science Translational Medicine. (Release)

Making KRAS mutations druggable in cancer

KRAS mutations have been observed in some aggressive tumor types, but targeting the abnormality with drugs has been challenging. Now, scientists at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine have discovered a biomarker that they believe could be used to develop an anti-KRAS strategy. The biomarker can predict which tumors are most likely to become “addicted” to KRAS, using the mutation to boost the survival of cancer cells. They tested a compound that inhibits a protein called Galectin-3 and found they could inhibit KRAS-addicted cells. The research is published in the journal Cancer Discovery. (Release)