Targeting Hox Gene Dysregulation a Promising Approach for the Treatment of Glioblastoma Multiforme

Brain tumors are the deadliest type of tumors in the world. These tumors that occur following the uncontrolled proliferation of brain cells compress the surrounding normal brain tissues causing the patient to present with symptoms as mild as dizziness, headache, and nausea or as severe as paralysis and difficulty when breathing. In very extreme situations, the tumor may even cause enough increase in intracranial pressure to force a herniation of the brain out of the skull through the foramen magnum, resulting in damage to the centers in the brainstem that control the vital body processes.



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Several examples of brain tumors exist however the glioblastoma multiforme, also called GBM, notable for its aggressiveness and incurability has been tagged the deadliest of not just all brain tumors, but of all tumors in the world.

Recent research by scientists at the University of Surrey in collaboration with researchers at Leeds and Texas, and in HOX Therapeutics discovered a cure for this deadly type of brain tumor by targeting the culprit gene involved in the pathogenesis of the tumors.

Genes behind the pathogenesis of glioblastoma 

Before now, studies have connected the development of glioblastoma multiforme with a family of genes known as Hox genes. Interestingly, these genes control healthy growth in the embryo but become silenced at birth after vigorous activity in the growing embryo. However, a reactivation of the Hox genes after birth would no longer result in normal growth of brain tissue but will result in glioblastoma multiforme.

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Recent studies by these scientists showed that if reactivated, such as in GBM, the HTL-001 peptide (a short chain of amino acids) is effective in inhibiting the Hox genes and thereby preventing the development of GBM. The study was conducted in cell and animal models, proving the effectiveness of this peptide in silencing the Hox genes, and having undergone safety testing, the treatment is considered suitable for patient trials. The option is now being considered as a treatment for GBM and other related brain cancers.

One of the researchers involved in the study, James Culverwell, the CEO of HOX Therapeutics expressed his faith in the results of the study and hope in the potential of the study to bring insights into new and effective treatments for both brain and other cancers where the overexpression of HOX gene is of clear therapeutic significance.

Clinical significance

Hitherto, GBM had been considered incurable and has created many concerns. For decades, people who suffer from glioblastoma multiforme have had a five percent survival rate over five years, a figure that has so far not improved for years. However, not only will this project increase the survival rate and cure people with GBM, but it will also help alleviate the unsaid mental and emotional traumas associated with brain cancers by giving the patients newfound hope that brain cancers are not death sentences.

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This discovery is a step in the right direction in not just understanding brain tumors but also in comprehending other tumors.  When used as an alternative, the cure will help the patient battle against the disease condition but with increased hope for survival.


HOX and PBX gene dysregulation as a therapeutic target in glioblastoma multiforme



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