Could human fat help fight brain cancer?

1 May 2014

Stem cells, taken from a human body, could soon be used to deliver treatment directly to brains with aggressive tumours, according to Johns Hopkins University researchers.

Scientists believe that the findings from the study advance the possibility the technique could work in patients after surgery to destroy any remaining cancer cells in difficult to reach areas of the brain. 

In particular, glioblastoma cells are hard to kill as they move across the entire organ to hide and develop new tumours. As a result, cure rates for aggressive forms of the cancer are low.

Using mice models, researchers used stem cells (MSCs) — which can seek out cancer and other damaged cells — harvested from human fat tissue to treat the disease. 

According to the study, treated animals demonstrated less tumour growth and spread, compared to those who did not receive the therapy. Mice given the stem cells lived significantly longer, 76 days, as compared to 52 days in the untreated mice.

Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa, lead author of the study, said: "These modified mesenchymal stem cells are like a Trojan horse, in that they successfully make it to the tumor without being detected and then release their therapeutic contents to attack the cancer cells."

Posted by Jeanette Royston

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