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Sterol Synthesis Important in Growth of Medulloblastomas

Inhibition of sterol synthesis may offer a novel treatment for some cancers

FRIDAY, May 19 (HealthDay News) -- The growth of medulloblastoma cells in culture can be blocked by inhibitors of sterol synthesis such as statins, according to a study published online May 17 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Early Edition.

Matthew Scott, Ph.D., and Ryan B. Corcoran, from Stanford University School of Medicine in Stanford, Calif., investigated the importance of cholesterols, cholesterol derivatives and the Sonic hedgehog protein (Shh) signaling pathway on the growth of medulloblastoma cells in culture. Shh is secreted by cells and is important during embryo development, the authors note.

The researchers found that inhibitors of sterol synthesis such as statins specifically blocked the growth of medulloblastoma cells by blocking Shh signaling and reducing the expression of Shh-targeted genes. The effects of the inhibitors could be reversed by adding cholesterol or specific oxysterols to the cells, according to the study.

"Inhibition of Shh signaling by sterol synthesis inhibitors may offer a novel approach to the treatment of medulloblastoma and other Shh pathway-dependent human tumors," Scott and Corcoran conclude.

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