A New Potential Treatment for Ewing Sarcoma

Researchers have uncovered molecular interactions underlying Ewing sarcomas, and proposed a possible treatment option which showed efficacy in a mouse model. Their findings were published in the journal Cell Reports.

The researchers, led by Postdoctoral fellow Dr. Swati Srivastava in the laboratory of Prof. Yosef Yarden in the Biological Regulation Department, focused their study on receptors for glucocorticoids, a type of steroid hormone. Each human cell contains these receptors, which pass along hormonal messages related to stress, wakefulness, and other important functions. However, sometimes these hormones interact and bind with transcription factors that work by shutting genes on and off. The study researchers sought to lean more about the role of these interactions with cancer.

Subsequently, they conducted a protein interaction analysis that showed a link between the Ewing sarcoma gene and glucocorticoid receptors and postulated that these receptors augment the growth of Ewing sarcoma. Their study evidence backed the hypothesis of this interaction, showing that physical binding between glucocorticoid receptors combined with the protein produced by the Ewing sarcoma oncogene increase the growth and spread of Ewing sarcoma in a lab dish and elevates the growth of the cancer when tested on mice.

Moreover, the researchers conducted an analysis of Ewing sarcoma tissue samples and identified seven genes that were regulated by the glucocorticoid receptors expressed in elevated levels in patients with especially dangerous malignancies. These genes can potentially serve as a genetic signature enabling a selection of treated patients. Furthermore, the expression of these signature genes may assist in predicting the course of Ewing Sarcoma.

“Our findings provide the basis for a personalized approach to the treatment of Ewing sarcoma,” Dr. Srivastava said in a press release about the study. “The fact that the study made use of drugs that have already been approved for other uses should facilitate the implementation of this approach.”