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New Driver Of Aggressive Brain Cancer Discovered By UH Cancer Center Researchers
Lead author Joe W. Ramos

Study lead author Joe W. Ramos

University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Center researchers have identified an essential driver of tumor cell invasion in glioblastoma, the most aggressive form of brain cancer that can occur at any age. The discovery can help researchers create novel targeted therapies potentially reducing deaths from this devastating cancer.

“New treatment options for brain cancer patients are desperately needed,” said Joe W. Ramos, UH Cancer Center deputy director and lead researcher on the study. “Treatment options include chemotherapy in combination with radiation, but they only prolong a patient’s life by a few months.”

Glioblastoma remains a lethal cancer with only a 14-month average survival rate after initial diagnosis.

The study published in Oncotarget reveals that a protein called RSK2 is increased in many patients with glioblastoma. The protein pushes glioblastoma cells into surrounding healthy brain tissue. The invasion of these cells throughout the brain makes it difficult to remove the tumor by surgery, which contributes to high recurrence and poor survival rates in patients. The invading glioblastoma cells are less sensitive to current standard therapies. The research team found that inhibiting RSK2 stops invasion of the tumor cells and enhances the effectiveness of standard chemotherapy in tumor cells obtained from patients.

Study co-author Santosh Kesari

“This study paves the way for development of new brain cancer therapies focused on RSK2 inhibitors for brain invasion,” said co-author Santosh Kesari, chair of the Department of Translational Neurosciences and Neurotherapeutics of the John Wayne Cancer Institute and Pacific Neuroscience Institute at Providence Saint John’s Health Center.

“The next steps include identifying better compounds to target the RSK2 protein. We are hoping to discover a powerful new drug to treat this aggressive brain cancer,” said Ramos.

The findings resulted from several years of collaboration among the labs of Ramos and Michelle Matter at the UH Cancer Center, Kesari at the John Wayne Cancer Institute and Dirk Geerts of Erasmus University Medical Center in the Netherlands.

“The new discovery can potentially lead to a new class of drugs to treat not only brain cancers, but other invasive cancers as well. With about 60 new cases of brain cancer diagnosed every year in Hawaiʻi, and about 40 deaths, an effective treatment can help many patients in our state,” said Randall Holcombe, UH Cancer Center director.

This Post Has 8 Comments
  1. My 51 year of husband was diagnosed with unmethulated GBM4 in April this year he is on a vertu trail is this god same theApy He has had a regrowth in October but it didn’t grow as rapid as the first one even though it’s the same makeup.

  2. Aloha all,

    Thank you all for your interest in our research. We are still at the beginning stages of developing a drug that can work on this target in humans, so we do not have a trial open.

    However, there are many GBM trials on the mainland using other approaches. You may wish to contact my co-author on this paper (Dr. Santosh Kesari) to see if he may have suggestions. He is a neurosurgeon in Los Angeles and runs GBM trials.

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