The source of a brain tumour’s aggressiveness found
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Scientists in Korea have discovered why an aggressive brain cancer often reoccurs even after being subjected to the best treatments modern medicine can offer. This could lead to new ways to treat it.
Glioblastoma is a devastating brain tumour that has no cure. Even after surgical removal followed by radiotherapy and chemotherapy, it frequently reoccurs within a year, and half of patients do not live beyond 15 months.
Now, an all-Korean team that included researchers at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) has tracked down the cells responsible for producing the tumor.
They analyzed samples from tumors, normal cortical tissue and normal subventricular zone tissue, where neural stem cells are found. In more than half the glioblastoma patients, subventricular zone tissue away from the tumour contained genetic mutations that are low-level drivers of glioblastoma.
In mice experiments, neural stem cells with these mutations migrated from the subventricular zone and produced glioblastomas in distant brain regions.
- Nature 560, 243–247 (2018). doi: 10.1038/s41586-018-0389-3