The magazine Scientific Reports, from the prestigious group Nature, has published a research work. Led by the IIS Biodonostia Cellular Oncology group and doctors from the Donostia University Hospital (OSI Donostialdea), it describes how the SOX1 gene contributes to the formation and progression of the glioblastoma, the most common malignant brain tumour in humans.

SOX1 is a transcription factor associated with the maintenance of adult stem cells, frequently silenced with cancer, since its role is defensive in tumour cells. In other words, it normally acts as a tumour suppressor with different solid cancers.

However, the study led by Dr Ander Matheu, head of the Cellular Oncology group at IIS Biodonostia, identifies the relevant role that SOX1 plays in the progress and recurrence of glioblastoma, the most common and malignant brain tumour in humans. In fact, researchers have observed SOX1 levels above normal in a group of tumour biopsies associated with lower survival rates in patients.

Moreover, they identified that SOX1 levels significantly increase in a specific population of brain cells, responsible for glioblastoma initiation and progression. When researchers silence SOX1 expression in glioma cells, they observe that they lose their malignant features, including their self-renewal and tumour activity capability. To this end, they conclude that the gene’s role is oncogenic with this kind of cancer.

These results reveal the new relevant role of SOX1 in glioblastoma progression. Furthermore, they provide a firm pre-clinical justification to research new strategies, using the gene as a stratification biomarker and therapeutic target.

The work Oncogenic activity of SOX1 in glioblastoma is an international collaborative project coordinated by Dr Ander Matheu, head of the Cellular Oncology group of the Biodonostia Institute, with the participation of the following researchers: Idoia Garcia, Juncal Aldaregia, Jelena Marjanovic Vicentic, Paula Aldaz, Leire Moreno-Cugnon, Sergio Torres-Bayona, Estefania Carrasco-Garcia, Laura Garros, Larraitz Egaña, Angel Rubio, Steven Pollard, Milena Stevanovic and Nicolas Sampron.

In addition to publishing the research’s deductions, the researchers intend to develop these hypotheses. To this end, they have patented the results.