Researchers at Karolinska Institutet and Uppsala University have discovered that a substance called Vacquinol-1 makes cells from glioblastoma, the most aggressive type of brain tumor, literally explode. When mice were given the substance, which can be given in tablet form, tumor growth was reversed and survival was prolonged. The findings are published in the journal Cell. The established treatments for glioblastoma are limited, including surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. The average survival is just 15 months, so it’s critical to find better treatments for malignant brain tumors.
The researchers transplanted human glioblastoma cells into mice and fed them Vacquinol-1 for five days. The average survival was about 30 days for the control group that did not receive the substance. Of those who received the substance, six of eight mice were still alive after 80 days. The study was then considered of such interest that the journal Cell wanted to publish the article immediately, said Ernfors. The researchers found that Vacquinol-1 gave the cancer cells uncontrolled vacuolization, a process in which the cell carries substances from outside the cell into its interior. This carrying process is accomplished via vacuoles, a type of vesicle. The 2013 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine was awarded for the discovery of how cellular vesicles move things in cells. When cancer cells were filled with a large amount of vacuoles, the outer wall of the cell collapsed and the cell simply exploded and died.