2-in-1 Approach Could Prevent Spread Of Deadly Brain Tumour
According to a recent study published in the journal eLife, scientists have discovered a protein that, if targeted, could prevent the spread of the most common and deadly form of Brain Tumour – Glioblastomas.
Researchers at the Medical Research Council (MRC) Clinical Sciences Centre, Imperial College London, found that targeting a protein called ephrin-B2 which they had implanted into mice with tumour cells not only halts the division of cancer cells, but also stops them from spreading.
Glioblastomas have thread-like stems which spread into healthy brain tissue very easily, and this makes them especially hard to treat as complete removal of the tumours by surgery alone is impossible. This also results in a high rate of recurrence of the disease.
The team behind the study hope that with further research this two-in-one approach could one day lead to a much-needed new treatment.
While scientists are not 100% clear as to exactly how cancerous tumour cells invade the brain in with Glioblastomas, they DO know that a cardinal route is via the space surrounding blood vessels; this invasion is called ‘perivascular invasion‘.
The researchers used a cutting-edge technique called intravital imaging to watch this invasion within a mouse brain in real time. They observed that when healthy cells first develop non-cancerous mutations, blood vessels within the brain keep them in a compartment so that they cannot spread and cause damage. They found that the vessels do this by producing ephrin-B2, which appears to immobilise the cells and hold them in place. When the cells become cancerous, they are able to override this signal and escape.
The research showed that cancerous cells do this by producing their own ephrin-B2, which makes them insensitive to the ephrin-B2 already in the blood vessels stopping the cells from spreading. In addition, researchers observed a positive feedback effect alongside the raised levels of ephrin-B2. At high levels, the protein seems to act as a signal, telling the cells to divide.
The team attempted to block the protein in a mouse model implanted with tumour cells from human patients. They discovered that the tumour cells were then unable to divide and spread throughout the brain; this resulted in tumours shrinking in size and the treated mice outliving those that did not receive the treatment – some tumours disappeared completely.
Dr Simona Parrinello, Lead Author of the study and Group Leader at the MRC Clinical Sciences Centre, said:
“The ephrin-B2 protein is complex but in this case it works in our favour. By blocking one molecule we affect two key aspects of tumours; their ability to divide and their ability to invade. It could be a combined therapy in one.”
Dr Adam Babbs, Programme Manager for Cancer Research at the MRC, said:
“These types of brain tumours are not only the most common but also the most difficult to treat. The MRC’s investment in high quality brain tumour research is advancing our knowledge of how the disease works and could help in the search for a more effective treatment.”
The team plan to test whether this protein plays a role in the spread of other types of brain tumours, with the aim of developing a treatment that can go to human trials.
Article: EphrinB2 drives perivascular invasion and proliferation of glioblastoma stem-like cells, Benjamin Krusche Cristina Ottone Melanie P Clements Ewan R Johnstone Katrin Goetsch Huang Lieven Silvia G Mota Poonam Singh Sanjay Khadayate Azhaar Ashraf Timothy Davies Steven M Pollard Vincenzo De Paola Federico Roncaroli Jorge Martinez-Torrecuadrada Paul Bertone Simona Parrinello, eLife, doi: 10.7554/eLife.14845, published 28 June 2016.
Posted on 7 July, 2016, in Articles, Blog, Research and tagged brain cancer, brain cancer awareness, cancer, cancer cells, cancer research, cancer treatment, Child Cancer Awareness, childhood brain cancer, Childhood Cancer Awareness, ephrin-B2, Fighting Cancer. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.