Glioblastomas are highly lethal cancers for which conventional therapies are essentially palliative. We recently demonstrated that a subset of glioblastoma cells that share characteristics with somatic neural stem cells, cancer stem cells, are resistant to radiation and highly angiogenic. In combination with data from other laboratories, our results suggest that cancer stem cells are important determinants of the overall behavior of glioblastomas and that cancer stem cell directed therapies may be effective in controlling glioblastoma growth. Anti- angiogenic therapies may function as anti-stem cell therapies not only through the disruption of cancer stem cell angiogenesis but may also disrupt the vascular niche promoting cancer stem cell maintenance. This approach has direct therapeutic relevance as Bevacizumab (Avastin), a VEGF neutralizing antibody, has demonstrated activity in clinical trials for glioblastoma patients supporting potential utility of anti-angiogenic therapies for brain tumors. Critical to the success of anti-cancer stem cell approaches will be the limitation of toxicity to normal stem cells. Cancer cells reside in relative hypoxia, which has been linked to tumor angiogenesis, invasion, and resistance to therapy. Hypoxia increases stem cell maintenance suggesting that effects of hypoxia on cancer stem cells may contribute to tumor malignancy. To investigate the role of tumor vasculature in cancer stem cell biology and lay the foundation for potential new therapeutic approaches, we propose to: 1) Interrogate the response of cancer stem cells to hypoxia in survival, secretion of angiogenic factors, and invasion. 2) Determine the molecular mechanisms driving cancer stem cell specific responses to hypoxia relative to normal neural stem cells. 3) Determine if cancer stem cells provide a biomarker for patient response to bevacizumab therapy. The successful completion of these studies will better define the role of cancer stem cells in glioblastoma biology and provide direct therapeutic benefit. 4) Determine if targeting cancer stem cell hypoxic responses sensitizes tumors to cytotoxic therapies (radiotherapy, chemotherapy). PROJECT NARRATIVE The cancer stem cell hypothesis may offer novel insights into glioblastoma angiogenesis and radiation resistance. We now seek to build on our prior studies of glioblastoma stem cells to understand the mechanisms by which these cells display preferential angiogenesis and survival upon treatment with radiation and chemotherapy. These studies may permit the selective targeting of cancer stem cells to improve tumor response to therapy.

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National Cancer Institute (NCI)
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Tumor Progression and Metastasis Study Section (TPM)
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Timmer, William C
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Cleveland Clinic Lerner
Other Basic Sciences
Schools of Medicine
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