Childhood brain cancer is one of the leading causes of deaths of children between five and eight years. The prognosis of these patients totally depends on the type of tumor. DIPG (Diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma) is one of the most threatening brain cancers as it affects the pons. They act as a link between the brain and the spinal cord and are extremely sensitive. Tumors located at sensitive areas are highly difficult to remove as they pose the risk of lethal brain damage. Doctors often use chemotherapy along with radiation to treat the disease. However, it is a temporary solution and has several side effects. This has given rise to the need for new treatments with lesser side effects for treating children with DIPG.
Recent Study Discovers New Drug for Treatment
A new drug discovered in a recent study has proven highly effective in treating DIPG. When tested on animal models, it successfully destroyed the DIPG cells. A team of scientists at Rockefeller have studied how this drug works. The research suggested that the drug essentially targets the cellular cholesterol pathways. Further, the researchers discovered that this mechanism can aid in treating several other brain cancers.
In 2014, C. David Allis, the Joy and Jack Fishman Professor, and Viviane Tabar, chair of the Department of Neurosurgery at MSKCC collaborated for a new research. They discovered a new compound called MI-2 to treat DIPG. The compound has showed promising results in treating leukemia. MI-2 switches off genes interacting with menin. However, the drug worked in a distinct manner in case of DIPG. In DIPG patients, it attacked the enzyme lanosterol synthase that aids the production of cholesterol. As a result, the DIPG cells immediately died in depleted cholesterol levels. Scientists are further working on developing compounds that reduce cholesterol levels that has proven to be effective in cancer treatment.