Targeted treatment clears glioblastoma tumors in drug-resistant models

As far as the war on cancer is concerned, the battle to cure mice was won a long time ago, which helps build some healthy skepticism about the implications animal studies have for future human trials. But some mouse models for glioblastoma have proven to be highly resistant to the new therapies that have been thrown at it. Until now.

A team drawn from Sanford-Burnham and the Salk Institute designed a new treatment that binds a cell-killing peptide with another peptide that can home in on tumors and added a nanoparticle for good measure which both accelerates cell death and highlights them for imaging. And they found that it was effective in those drug-resistant mouse models for hard-to-treat brain cancer. For one model, tumors were eliminated while another researcher determined that the lethal disease was slowed in another model.

Precise delivery of potent cancer-killing treatments is a major focus in oncology. The better drugs steer clear of healthy tissue the more they can amp up the dosage. This experimental approach takes that targeted approach one step further.

"Ordinarily researchers and clinicians are happy if they are able to deliver more drugs to a tumor than to normal tissues. We not only accomplished that, but were able to design our nanoparticles to deliver the killer peptide right where it acts--the mitochondria, the cell's energy-generating center," said Dr. Erkki Ruoslahti, senior author of the study and a professor at Sanford-Burnham's NCI-designated Cancer Center in La Jolla, CA.

- here's the release