Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

In search of treatment for rare bone cancer

Date:
December 11, 2013
Source:
Johns Hopkins Medicine
Summary:
Researchers say that a drug approved to treat lung cancer substantially shrank tumors in mice that were caused by a rare form of bone cancer called chordoma.

Johns Hopkins researchers say that a drug approved to treat lung cancer substantially shrank tumors in mice that were caused by a rare form of bone cancer called chordoma.

Reporting in the journal PLOS ONE, the researchers say the finding offers hope to chordoma patients, who have no treatment options once surgery and radiation have been exhausted. There are no U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved medications for the disease and, because its incidence is only one in 1 million, there is little financial incentive for pharmaceutical companies to develop or test drugs to treat them.

“The encouraging news is that this drug is already used in humans to treat lung cancer,” says study leader Gary L. Gallia, M.D., Ph.D., an assistant professor of neurosurgery and oncology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Chordoma occurs at the base of the skull and in the bones of the spine. This cancer is thought to arise from remnants of the cartilage-like structure that serves as a scaffold for the formation of the spinal column. These so-called notochord cells normally persist after birth and are lodged inside the spine and skull. In rare cases, they become malignant tumors. The tumors are generally slow-growing but tend to recur, and their proximity to critical structures such as the spinal cord, cranial nerves and brain stem make them difficult to treat. Median survival time is seven years after diagnosis.

Since chordoma is so rare, few models have existed to even study it outside cells in a petri dish, says Gallia, who together with colleagues last year developed a mouse model of the disorder. The model was created by implanting human tumor tissue into a mouse.

The researchers began their drug studies by first examining the makeup of the tumor cells in their mouse model to determine what might be causing the cells to grow and divide uncontrolled. They saw that the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) pathway was active and suspected that it played a critical role in the malignancy. Gallia and his colleagues tested two FDA-approved drugs known to inhibit EGFR and found that erlotinib was able to better slow the growth of chordoma than gefitinib.

They then tested erlotinib in mice transplanted with human chordoma tumors. After 37 days of treatment, the average tumor volume in the control group was more than three times larger than in those animals that were treated with erlotinib. Further research indicated that EGFR activation was significantly reduced.

“We hit our target,” Gallia says. “It drastically reduced the growth of the tumors.”

Gallia says he hopes his findings will lead to testing in chordoma patients. Although a controlled clinical trial would be ideal, he says it may be difficult to get funding to test treatments for such a rare disease.

Alternatively, he says he hopes erlotinib might be used in selected patients whose tumors are shown to have active EGFRs and who have run out of other treatment options.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Johns Hopkins Medicine. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. I-Mei Siu, Jacob Ruzevick, Qi Zhao, Nick Connis, Yuchen Jiao, Chetan Bettegowda, Xuewei Xia, Peter C. Burger, Christine L. Hann, Gary L. Gallia. Erlotinib Inhibits Growth of a Patient-Derived Chordoma Xenograft. PLoS ONE, 2013; 8 (11): e78895 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0078895

Cite This Page:

Johns Hopkins Medicine. "In search of treatment for rare bone cancer." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 December 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131211141935.htm>.
Johns Hopkins Medicine. (2013, December 11). In search of treatment for rare bone cancer. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131211141935.htm
Johns Hopkins Medicine. "In search of treatment for rare bone cancer." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131211141935.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, April 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) The breakthrough could mean a cure for some serious diseases and even the possibility of human cloning, but it's all still a way off. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups

Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) President Barack Obama gave a briefing Thursday announcing 8 million people have signed up under the Affordable Care Act. He blasted continued Republican efforts to repeal the law. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) A recent study links apathetic feelings to a smaller brain. Researchers say the results indicate a need for apathy screening for at-risk seniors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins