Invading brain tumour cells 'could lead to new treatment'

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

Health News is provided by Adfero in collaboration with Spire Healthcare. Please note that all copy above is ©Adfero Ltd. and does not reflect views or opinions of Spire Healthcare unless explicitly stated. Additional comments on the page from individual Spire consultants do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of other consultants or Spire Healthcare.

Find a treatment, test or scan available at:


Find a consultant

Use one or more of the options below to search for a consultant and link through to view their Spire profile.


Let us help you

fill out this form and we will get back to you:

Please select a hospital

We can call you

Please enter your details below and we will call you back.

What is the aim of your enquiry?

Please select a hospital

If we are unable to reach you by phone, please include your email address so that we can get in touch...



© Spire Healthcare Group plc (2016)