International healthcare researchers at Singapore's Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star) have made groundbreaking advances in the treatment of glioblastoma multiforme.
This is a particularly dangerous and lethal form of tumour, which rapidly grows and readily spreads to other tissues, while it accounts for around 17 per cent of all brain cancers.
Researchers at A*Star's Institute of Medical Biology and its Bioinformatics Institute collaborated to deal with the condition, with the investigation led by Dr Prabha Sampath.
They discovered a biomarker – miR-138 – that indicates the presence of glioblastoma multiforme and found that depleting this substance using potential drug antimiR-138 could halt the progression of the tumour, as well as reduce the likelihood of a relapse occurring.
Findings from the study were reported in the journal Cell Reports and the investigation also involved the input of collaborators from Austria's Medical University of Graz and the National University of Singapore.
Currently, people receiving treatment for glioblastoma multiforme through international health insurance policies are given therapies including surgical intervention and the use of gamma radiation, but the scientists said these methods are typically inadequate, as the tumours typically grow again.
Mouse models of the utility of antimiR-138, which were performed with a control drug, found that nine months after the brain cancer developed, the control animals still had a tumour, whereas those who had been injected with antimiR-138 did not realise any tumour growth after this time.
Scientists also discovered that when the miR-138 biomarker is completely depleted, the cancer cells are entirely destroyed.
"These findings will facilitate the translation of basic research into clinical applications such as targeted drug design to treat brain cancer," A*Star chief scientist Professor Sir David Lane pointed out.
He added: "This is an excellent example of how A*Star's impactful research can be applied to develop treatments for diseases like cancer."