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Origin of brain tumor discovered
08 May 2009
Glioma is the most common and most serious form of brain tumors that affect adults. It has not yet been determined which specific type of cell in the brain is the source of the tumor, but now a research team at Uppsala University can show that glioma can start from immature support cells. The findings are published in the scientific journal Oncogene.
In recent years it has been discussed more and more often that it is neural stem cells in the brain that are transmuted into cancer cells and can then develop into glioma.
“But our results show that immature support cells can function as the source cells for the tumor. We can thus establish that it does not have to be stem cells that cause glioma,” says Nanna Lindberg, a doctoral candidate at the Department of Genetics and Pathology, who is carrying out the study.
She says that patients with malignant glioma often die within a year of being diagnosed, since the tumor cells rapidly infiltrate normal brain tissue and are difficult to treat. It is also common for the tumor to recur after treatment. With a better understanding of the genesis and growth of brain tumors, researchers will be able to identify new targets for treatment and ultimately will enhance the chances of survival.
To study tumors, various models are used, often animal models where the tumor both looks and behaves as it would in a human. In the present study a model is described that Nanna Lindberg created together with Associate Professor Lene Uhrbom and is used specifically for studying how glioma arises in a certain type of support cells. In this model tumors are formed that in many ways are similar to glioma in humans.
“Combining knowledge from other models where tumors arise from other cell types, with our model we can examine how the source cell affects the genesis and growth of the tumor. We can also compare how tumors of various origin differ from each other,” says Nanna Lindberg, adding that the model can later be used for preclinical treatment studies.