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National brain tumour research funding needs to increase to £35 million a year

Targeting protein slows Meningioma growth


The Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription 1 (STAT1) protein is known to play a role in our immune system and STAT1 disruption is linked to cancer.

In the majority of meningioma samples examined at our Plymouth research centre the STAT1 gene was found to be ‘overexpressed’ meaning that the tumour grew in response to “instructions” from the STAT1 protein following the addition of a phosphate molecule. Further research showed it to be the epidermal growth factor receptors (EGFR) that were  ‘driving’ these STAT 1 genes. In their research the team used drugs known to affect the biological pathways that block the EGFR, stopping it from working.

Previous trials in recurrent meningioma of a drug called Erlotinib have failed however when the Plymouth team looked at newer drugs that work in a similar way they discovered that second generation EGFR inhibitors such as canertinib and afatinib had a broader inhibitory effect on both EGFR and STAT1, a combined effect that caused the tumour cells to slow their growth significantly.

The team are optimistic about these new drugs and are working to get them into clinical trials as soon as possible. This is vital work as Meningiomas are the most commonly diagnosed primary brain tumours and although patients can live for many years with these tumours  no effective chemotherapy or drug options are available. 


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