Particular brain tumors are very difficult to treat because they regenerate after the treatment is over. A team of researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine (St. Louis, Missouri) have discovered a way to stop brain tumor regeneration. The key to curbing tumor regeneration lies in the disruption of the brain tumor stem cells, which are the cause of regeneration. More details about the study can be found in the journal Cell Reports.
The cancer stem cells which evade treatment can generate the growth of new tumor cells. However scientists have discovered that several stem cells have a weak spot. In order to generate new tumors the abilities of the cancer stem cells have to be maintained. Scientists have discovered that in order to stop the spreading of cancer the maintenance process must be disrupted.
According to the senior author of the study, assistant professor of neurological surgery Albert H. Kim, this discovery can help scientists attack the root of deadly brain tumors. According to him for a brain cancer treatment to be successful what is required is the ability to block the capacity of tumor stem cells to survive and regenerate themselves.
“Grow-and-go tumors” are one of the deadliest forms of brain cancer. This form is also known as glioblastoma. Most patients who suffer from this type of cancer survive 15 months after the diagnosis. Only 10 percent of the patients get to live more than two years. Scientists have understood that particular cells in tumors including glioblastomas are more resistant than others to various treatments. Researchers have discovered that the stem cell’s weak spot is the SOX2 protein which is present both in the brain tumor stem cells and in the healthy stem cells.
It seems that the stem cells can be prevented from making the SOX2 protein with the help of another protein, CDC20. Conducting an experiment on mice the scientists observed the brain tumor regeneration was stopped by eliminating CDC20. This led to the incapacity of the tumor stem cells to produce SOX2 and so they no longer had the power to form tumors.
According to Dr. Kim the rate of growth in several tumors which lacked CDC20 dropped 95% when compared with tumors which had a normal level of CDC20. Now the researchers will concentrate on finding a way to block the CDC20 protein. One possible way to do this is through RNA (ribonucleic acid) interference, a method which is already used in treating some types of cancers and other illnesses.
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