Two Parallel Israeli Studies Make Advances Toward Combating GBM Brain Tumors

Within a month of each other, scientists at Sheba Medical Center Hospital – Tel HaShomer and Hebrew University declared successful trials relating to their respective drugs and molecule studies for fighting glioblastoma (GBM), one of the world’s most common and deadly brain tumors. Neuroscientists at Sheba Medical Center in Tel Aviv presented a new drug called SIXAC, a six-amino-based compound that aims to prevent the activation of PAR1, a protease- activated neuroreceptor that is responsible for the pathology and progression of this type of cancer. In animal trials, the neuro- researchers found that when SIXAC was injected into the tumor, it significantly reduced the tumor’s ability to proliferate, and in some cases, the cancer was completely cured. The drug is intended to be a complementary therapy to radio chemotherapy, and the pair are expected to synergistically improve the currently dismal survival rates of people affected with the disease. The initial trial, which was discussed in Frontiers in Neurology, corroborated the assumption that PAR1 is responsible for spreading glioblastoma.
A parallel study by researchers at Hebrew University’s Institute for Medical Research Israel – Canada took a completely different approach but also met with inspiring success, as featured in Nucleic Acids Research. The researchers developed a molecule that works to prevent the growth of the GBM tumor by regulating the tumor’s protein production. The team discovered, via RNA  alternative splicing of the proteins’ production of GBM tumor cells, which proteins are responsible for instructing the tumor to inhibit cancer growth and which spur it forward. The researchers were able to design a molecule that altered the splicing to only call for the production of the cancer-fighting protein, in effect reducing the tumor or eliminating it completely. Both research teams hope to advance to testing on human subjects, with the hope of increasing the life expectancy of those battling GBM, who, on average, have less than a two-year survival rate from the time of the initial diagnosis.