Cholesterol-lowering Drugs May Treat Brain Cancer

Glioblastoma may be treated with endothelial growth factor inhibitors

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) One of the most exciting frontiers in oncology is discovering molecular behavior that responds to existing drug therapies. Just such a discovery has been made regarding a deadly form of brain cancer.

Researchers have found that glioblastoma, one of the most lethal forms of brain cancer, needs large amounts of cholesterol to survive and grow. This finding opens the door to testing if cholesterol-lowering agents could be used to treat this cancer.

"Early results show that cholesterol meds may treat brain cancer."

Investigators have uncovered that a cancer-causing gene known as EGFR VIII increases production of cholesterol. Lead investigator, Paul Mischel, M.D., professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, says this is not surprising given the fact that cholesterol is crucial in making new membranes - something fast growing tumors need in abundance.

This study, which involved glioblastoma cell lines, mouse models and clinical samples taken from patients, adds to the growing body of work focusing on cutting off the supplies tumors need to grow.

Among the candidates that hold promise is a class of drugs known as vascular endothelial growth factor inhibitors, which block blood supply to the tumor. Avastin (bevacizumab) was named in the study.

Dr. Mischel concludes that if this laboratory study can be confirmed in larger studies, cholesterol-lowering medications may become a glioblastoma treatment option.

This study was published study published in Cancer Discovery, the newest journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

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Review Date: 
September 16, 2011
Last Updated:
September 20, 2011