New screening could improve brain cancer treatment

12 October 2011

Cancer diagnosis for brain tumours could see a change as research has found a new way to screen for killer cells.

Researchers at the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center have developed a molecular screening approach that identifies chemical compounds that can target the stem cells responsible for creating deadly brain tumours.

The study found that an advanced screening method could detect two types of cells - a larger, heterogeneous population of tumour cells and a smaller sub-population of stem cells, which are often treatment-resistant.

Led by Dr Harley Kornblum, a Jonsson Cancer Center scientist and a professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences, the study is to be published in the October edition of Molecular Cancer Therapeutics.

Dr Kornblum said: "When brain cancer stem cells were first discovered, we all realised rapidly that we would need to find drugs that attack these cells specifically, because they're resistant to our conventional therapies. We needed a way to kill these stem cells."

He added that the new screening method, which tested 31,000 compounds, will allow for further drug development and cancer detection.

A combination of radiotherapy, chemotherapy and surgery are the most common methods currently used to treat brain tumours.

By Jeanette Royston

Visnyei, et al. A Molecular Screening Approach to Identify and Cahracterize Inhibotirs of Glioblastoma Stem Cells, Molecular Cancer Therapies, October 2011.


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