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Catalan researchers discover a treatment for an aggressive form of childhood cancer

The study by the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute has managed to demonstrate that a molecule similar to glucose can cause the death of cancerous cells. The research would enable to shortly develop treatments for the alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma.

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23 September 2011 08:34 PM

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ACN

Barcelona (ACN).- A study by the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL), in Barcelona Metropolitan Area, discovered a treatment for a serious childhood cancer. In particular, it has managed to demonstrate that a molecule similar to that of glucose causes the death of the alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma cells, one type of malignant tumor in children. This molecule is very similar to that used in imaging techniques used to diagnose various tumors according to their rate of glucose consumption. This suggests that could be used immediately as a treatment for this aggressive childhood tumor. The results were published in the international journal 'Cancer Research'. This finding is to be added to a series of research results in biomedicine, which confirm Barcelona as a cluster of biomedical research.


Rhabdomyosarcoma is the most common soft tissue tumor in children and adolescents and accounts for between 4% and 5% of pediatric tumors. It comes in two forms, the most common and less aggressive type the embryonic rhabdomyosarcoma, and the alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma, which is given a much worse prognosis. The most commonly used treatment for the latter type is invasive surgery. Chemotherapy treatments are not effective for this type of cancer, with a survival rate, five years or less after the initial diagnosis of 70%, indicating the need to develop more effective treatments.

In this regard, in recent years, the interest in the study of tumor metabolism as a potential therapeutic strategy has increased. The research has demonstrated, in vitro, that the found molecule inhibits the glucose metabolism of the tumor, which the tumor needs to survive and thus causing the death of the cancerous cell. The IBIDELL study has been coordinated by the lead scientist from the Regulation of Cell Death group, Cristina Muñoz, and the head of the Sarcomes group, Òscar Martínez-Tirado. According to Cristina Muñoz this molecule "slows the growth of tumor cells, provokes their death, and a percentage of them go through a terminal differentiation, and they present the appearance of healthy muscle cells." Muñoz believes that "knowing the mechanism that causes the death of tumor cells will, in future, give more refined treatments and make the treatments more individualised."

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  • Researchers from the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (by ACN)

  • Researchers from the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (by ACN)