Researchers from the University of Surrey have showed in a study that a short chain of amino acids, HTL-001 peptide, is effective for target and inhibition of the function of Hox genes that causes growth of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). 

These findings are obtained from a seven-year research project carried out in cell and animal models.  

The project was conducted in partnership with the universities of Surrey, Leeds and Texas and HOX Therapeutics.

HOX Therapeutics, the University of Surrey’s start-up firm, is in the Surrey Research Park.

The HTL-001 peptide analysed in the study has been tested for safety and is claimed to be fit for subject trials. 

Currently, these trials are being explored to treat GBM and other cancers. 

A family of genes, Hox genes are crucial for proper brain tissue growth but are usually silenced at birth following robust activity in the developing embryo. 

However, if they are ‘switched on’ again incorrectly, their activity can cause cancer progression. 

Dysregulation of Hox gene has been associated with GBM.  

University of Surrey Medical Oncology professor and project lead Hardev Pandha said: “People who suffer from Glioblastoma Multiforme have a five per cent survival rate over a five-year period – a figure that has not improved in decades. 

“While we are still early in the process, our seven-year project offers a glimmer of hope for finding a solution to Hox gene dysregulation, which is associated with the growth of GBM and other cancers, and which has proven to be elusive as a target for so many years.” 

GBM is a common and devastating kind of brain cancer in adults.