Dr. Lawrence Pfeffer Publishes Findings on Gene that Inhibits Tumor Growth in Brain Cancer

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Dr. Lawrence Pfeffer is the principal author of a paper detailing the function of a little-known gene that could be a key to future treatment of glioma.
Dr. Lawrence Pfeffer is the principal author of a paper detailing the function of a little-known gene that could be a key to future treatment of glioma.

Lawrence Pfeffer, PhD, Muirhead Professor of Pathology and director of the Center for Cancer Research at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, is the principal author of a paper published in The Journal of Biological Chemistry that describes a little-known gene that could hold a key to future treatment of glioma, or brain cancer.

Dr. Pfeffer and his research team identified the gene FBXO11, which acts as a tumor suppressor. “No one had shown clearly how FBXO11 functions, and we show that it is a tumor suppressor,” he said.

The researchers found that suppression of FBXO11 promotes tumor formation. “High FBXO11 expression correlates with better patient survival and lower tumor grade consistent with its tumor suppressor activity,” the paper said.

Dr. Pfeffer said finding out more about how this gene operates is a step toward targeted treatments to support it, and thereby improve the prognosis for those with glioma. “Maybe this is a way of targeting that tumor suppressor so it is expressed at higher levels, and maybe it will inhibit tumorigenesis,” he said, referring to the formation of tumors. Gliomas comprise 80 percent of all malignant brain tumors.

The Journal of Biological Chemistry publishes original research that makes an important contribution to understanding biological processes. To read the paper, go to: http://www.jbc.org/content/290/10/6037.full?sid=5271003c-57f4-482b-8497-023b9e5add50.

Dr. Pfeffer and his research got the spotlight in a report filmed on campus by WKNO-TV to complement the initial airing of the Ken Burns documentary, “Cancer: The Emperor of all Maladies.”