Growth of Deadly Brain Tumors Inhibited In Important Research Study at Kennedy Krieger Institute

April 23, 2002
Researchers are first to target system that feeds' tumors

BALTIMORE, MD - In an important new development in brain cancer research that will be recognized April 29 at the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation annual meeting in Houston, researchers at Kennedy Krieger Institute have successfully inhibited the growth of deadly brain tumors in lab animals, using a novel molecular medicine.

Research by Roger Abounader, M.D., Ph.D., in collaboration with Bachchu Lal, Ph.D., in John Laterra's laboratory at Kennedy Krieger, promises to lead to the development of new medicines that could halt the growth of gliomas in humans. Gliomas, one of the most common cancers in children, are extremely aggressive and deadly brain tumors. More than 15,000 Americans are diagnosed yearly with this often incurable disease.

The growth of malignant gliomas is strongly enhanced by the increased expression of certain growth factors and their receptors. Kennedy Krieger's researchers studied the scatter factor/hepatocyte growth factor (SF/HGF) and its receptor, c-met, which play an important role in the cellular and molecular biology of human brain tumor malignancy. This growth factor/receptor system makes tumors resistant to radiation and chemotherapy and enhances tumor blood vessel formation.

The researchers became the first to successfully inhibit the expression of this growth factor/receptor system, reversing the growth rate of the brain tumors, using a novel molecular medicine developed in the Kennedy Krieger laboratory. This medicine, U1snRNA ribozyme, consists of an artificial gene that inhibits the expression of other genes.

Delivered intravenously in mice implanted with human gliomas, the medicine successfully reached and stopped the growth of the tumor cells. Its use could lead to the development of new therapies for brain tumors in humans, used alone or in conjunction with traditional chemotherapy and radiation.

The research was rewarded with the Peter A. Steck Memorial award from the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation of the United States. The work was published in the prestigious FASEB Journal (Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology) in January 2002 and is the result of several years of experimentation.

Kennedy Krieger Institute is dedicated to helping children and adolescents with disabilities resulting from disorders of the brain achieve their potential and participate as fully as possible in family, community and school life.

Media Contact Inquiries:

Allison Loritz, (443) 923-7330
Julie Lincoln, (443) 923-7334