Researchers at McGill University have identified a new cellular pathway that limits the growth and spread of brain tumors by controlling the recycling of cell surface receptor proteins. The study, which will be published January 14 in the Journal of Cell Biology (JCB), suggests that the pathway, which involves a protein called Rab35, is defective in many patients with glioblastoma and that restoring Rab35’s activity could be a new therapeutic strategy for this deadly form of brain cancer.
Glioblastoma is the most aggressive type of brain cancer, and because it is largely untreatable, the average patient dies within 14 months of diagnosis. Like in other cancers, the proliferation and spread of glioblastoma cells depends on various receptor proteins on the outside of the cell. The levels of these receptor proteins are controlled by cellular transport pathways that internalize the receptors and then either degrade them or return them to the cell surface.