9 July 2014
Invading brain tumour cells could hold the key to stopping the progression of the disease and damage to? the brain’s protective barrier, according to a new study published in the journal Nature Communications.
The findings could lead to different ways of killing the tumour as new treatments could reach the deadly cells at an earlier stage than previously thought possible.
Glioblastoma, a type of aggressive brain tumour, is a devastating form of cancer. The disease spreads rapidly and is difficult to treat as the brain protects itself against foreign substances.
The blood-brain barrier (BBB) stands in the way of potential harmful materials that try to reach the organ and it regulates the transport of molecules back and forth between the brain and blood.
Dr Harald Sontheimer, from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, commented: "The vast majority of tumour cells are associated with blood vessels. These cells appear to be using the vessels as highways to travel great distances within the brain."
Evidence from the study, which used mice models, suggests that invading tumour cells are not protected against the BBB and could be more vulnerable to drugs delivered to the brain via the blood.
Dr Sontheimer believes that if the findings “hold true in humans”, then treatment with anti-invasive agents will most likely be beneficial in patients that have been recently diagnosed with glioblastoma.
Posted by Philip Briggs
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