Development of Protein to Destroy Brain Cancer Cells

Waldemar Debinski, MD, PhD, director of the Brain Tumor Center of Excellence, announces a major breakthrough in research showing how a specially designed protein can be made to target and destroy Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) cells without harming the surrounding healthy cells.

The research is the latest advance in the 20 years that Debinski and colleagues have worked with the “designer protein.” The eventual goal is to design the protein in such as way as to use it to deliver a drug or other therapy into GBM cells to destroy them.

GBM is one of the deadliest forms of brain cancer, with a survival rate of 14½ months after diagnosis. Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center has been a leading institution in research of brain cancer for years, with a multidisciplinary approach that combines research with innovative clinical approaches.

In 2011, the center was renamed as the Thomas K. Hearn Brain Tumor Research Center in memory of the Wake Forest University president who died of brain cancer in 2008, five years after initially being treated for a brain tumor.

“GBM is one of the most vicious of human malignancies,” Debinski said. “Very little research has been done so far along this path, so this approach is very new and our study opens the door for more investigation.”