A researcher with Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCLA has developed and used a high-throughput molecular screening approach that identifies and characterizes chemical compounds that can target the stem cells that are responsible for creating deadly brain tumors.

Glioblastoma is one of the deadliest malignancies, typically killing patients within 12 to 18 months. These brain cancers consist of two kinds of cells, a larger, heterogeneous population of tumor cells and a smaller sub-population of stem cells, which are treatment-resistant.

The screening system was specifically designed to find drugs that can target that sub-population and prevent it from re-seeding the brain cancer, said study senior author Dr. Harley Kornblum, a professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences.

“We’re pleased that we can present a different way to approach the discovery of potential new cancer drugs,” said Kornblum, who also is also a member of UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center. “And by finding these drugs, we may be able to reveal things about the biology of these cancer stem cells.”

The study appears in the Oct. 10 issue of Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Association of Cancer Research.

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