Researchers have edged closer to finding a potential cure for the commonest tumour afflicting young children, Michelle Haber AM, executive director, Children's Cancer Institute Australia (CCIA), said the findings were an exciting development towards an eventual cure for this childhood cancer.
Researchers have known that the presence of multiple copies of the cancer-associated gene, MYCN, in neuroblastoma tumours is a powerful predictor of death in this disease.
It has also been known that MYCN drives the expression of many other genes including one in particular called ODC1.
"Patients whose tumours carry multiple copies of the MYCN gene have a particularly poor prognosis and new therapies are urgently needed," said Haber.
"Our findings indicate that over expression of the ODC1 gene contributes to the aggressive biology of this tumour and poor clinical outcomes, said a CCIA release.
Using a lab model of neuroblastoma, researchers tested whether inhibiting ODC1 activity with difluoromethylornithine (DFMO), a drug known to suppress ODC1 function, would improve treatment of neuroblastoma, when used in combination with conventional chemotherapeutic drugs.
"We found that the combined drug treatment prolonged tumour-free survival compared with chemotherapeutic drugs alone, suggesting that targeting ODC1 for suppression is a potentially valuable therapeutic approach," said Haber.
The study was published in Cancer Research.