Anti-Psychotic Medications Offer Unexpected Hope in Glioblastoma Battle

Researchers at the University of California (UC), San Diego School of Medicine, together with colleagues, have discovered that FDA-approved anti-psychotic drugs possess tumor-killing activity against the most aggressive form of primary brain cancer, glioblastoma. The finding was published online on March 7, 2014 in Oncotarget. The team of scientists, led by principal investigator Clark C. Chen, M.D., Ph.D., vice-chairman, UC San Diego, School of Medicine, division of neurosurgery, used a technology platform called shRNA to test how each gene in the human genome contributed to glioblastoma growth. The discovery that led to the shRNA technology won the Nobel Prize in Physiology/Medicine in 2006. "ShRNAs are invaluable tools in the study of what genes do. They function like molecular erasers," said Dr. Chen. "We can design these 'erasers' against every gene in the human genome. These shRNAs can then be packaged into viruses and introduced into cancer cells. If a gene is required for glioblastoma growth and the shRNA erases the function of that gene, then the cancer cell will either stop growing or die." Dr. Chen said that one surprising finding is that many genes required for glioblastoma growth are also required for dopamine receptor function. Dopamine is a small molecule that is released by nerve cells and binds to the dopamine receptor in surrounding nerve cells, enabling cell communication. Abnormal dopamine regulation is associated with Parkinson's disease, schizophrenia, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Because of the importance of dopamine in these diseases, drugs have been developed to neutralize the effect of dopamine, called dopamine antagonists. Following clues unveiled by their shRNA study, Dr.
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