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Neuroblastoma therapeutic strategy unveiled by LIMR researcher and colleagues

November 14, 2016 Research News

A new therapeutic approach to blocking the development and progression of the childhood cancer neuroblastoma has been proposed by Susan Gilmour, PhD, professor at Main Line Health’s Lankenau Institute for Medical Research (LIMR), and her colleagues in a multi-institutional study that was led by Michael Hogarty, MD, of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP).

Neuroblastoma, a type of cancer that starts in early forms of nerve cells found in an embryo or fetus, occurs most often in infants and young children, according to the American Cancer Society. Most new patients are just 1 or 2 years old, with nearly 90 percent diagnosed before age 5. The disease accounts for about six percent of all cancers in children, and approximately 700 new cases occur each year. In most cases the disease has already metastasized when it is diagnosed; hence there is an urgent need to find therapies that block its development and progression.

The researchers, whose study was published in a recent edition of the journal Clinical Cancer Research, found that therapies that disrupt polyamines (ubiquitous, small molecules that are essential for all cell growth and proliferation) stopped neuroblastoma development and progression in preclinical studies.

“Our studies demonstrated that therapies that depleted tumoral polyamines effectively blocked tumor initiation and even shrunk established neuroblastoma tumors in our mouse models,” said Dr. Gilmour, a cancer researcher. “This study has significant clinical relevance because it demonstrates a new strategy to improve the anti-tumor activity of existing chemotherapy for the most deadly forms of neuroblastoma.”

The researchers showed that adding the polyamine-inhibiting drugs difluoromethylornithine and celecoxib to a chemopreventive regime improved survival rates among mice with neuroblastoma.

Dr. Gilmour, whose research focuses on polyamines, has shown in many previous studies that the cellular content of polyamines is highly regulated in normal cells, and their dysregulation contributes to many disease states. Her expertise in this field is internationally recognized. This past fall, for example, she was invited to speak about polyamines and cancer at two conferences, the International Conference on Polyamines: Biochemical, Physiological and Clinical Perspectives held in Rome, Italy; and at the International Skin Carcinogenesis Conference held at the University of Minnesota, Austin.

In addition to those at CHOP, Dr. Gilmour’s colleagues in the neuroblastoma study included researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Temple University School of Medicine, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and several research institutes in Australia. Their work was funded by the U.S. Department of Defense, the National Health and Medical Research Council (Australia), and several private foundations. View the available abstract of the article here. (PDF)

About Main Line Health

Founded in 1985,Main Line Health is a not-for-profit health system serving portions of Philadelphia and its western suburbs. Main Line Health’s commitment—to deliver advanced medicine to treat and cure disease while also playing an important role in prevention and disease management as well as training physicians and other health care providers—reflects our intent to keep our community and ourselves well ahead. A team of more than 10,000 employees and 2,000 physicians care for patients throughout the Main Line Health system.

At Main Line Health’s core are four of the region’s most respected acute care hospitals—Lankenau Medical Center, Bryn Mawr Hospital, Paoli Hospital and Riddle Hospital—as well as one of the nation’s recognized facilities for rehabilitative medicine, Bryn Mawr Rehabilitation Hospital.

Main Line Health also includes Mirmont Treatment Center for drug and alcohol recovery; Main Line Health HomeCare & Hospice, which includes skilled home health care, hospice and home infusion services; Main Line Health Centers, primary and specialty care, lab and radiology, and other outpatient services located in Broomall, Collegeville, Concordville, Exton, King of Prussia and Newtown Square; Lankenau Institute for Medical Research, a biomedical research organization; and Main Line HealthCare,one of the region’s largest multispecialty physician networks.

Main Line Health is the recipient of numerous awards for quality care and service, including System Magnet® designation, the nation’s highest distinction for nursing excellence and the Mid-Atlantic Alliance for Performance Excellence (MAAPE) Excellence Award. Main Line Health is committed to creating an environment of diversity, respect and inclusion and has proudly embraced the American Hospital Association’s #123forEquity Pledge to Act to eliminate disparities in care. We are dedicated to advancing patient-centered care, education and research to help our community stay healthy.

About Lankenau Institute for Medical Research

Lankenau Institute for Medical Research (LIMR) is a nonprofit biomedical research institute located on the campus of Lankenau Medical Center and is part of Main Line Health. Founded in 1927, LIMR’s mission is to improve human health and well-being. Faculty and staff are devoted to advancing innovative new approaches to formidable medical challenges, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, gastrointestinal disorders and autoimmune diseases, such as diabetes and arthritis. LIMR’s principal investigators conduct basic, preclinical and translational research, using their findings to explore ways to improve disease detection, diagnosis, treatment and prevention. They are committed to extending the boundaries of human health through technology transfer and training of the next generation of scientists and physicians.