Cancer News Network

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Friday, December 08, 2006

Scientists develop a new treatment for brain cancer


Life Style Extra: Scientists have developed a treatment that may be effective against the most common and deadly form of brain cancer.

Glioblastomas usually grow so quickly that they kill within a year of diagnosis - and neither surgery, drugs nor radiotherapy can stop it.

But Italian researchers have blocked the tumor’s growth in lab mice by injecting a protein into their brains.
It's hoped the study published in Nature will yield new treatments for glioblastomas - known as GBMs - for which there is currently no cure.

It's thought that glioblastomas are maintained by so-called cancer stem cells - a small population of tumor cells that can generate copies of themselves and of all the other cell types that make up a tumor.

Dr Angelo Vescovi and colleagues at the University of Milan Bicocca found when mice injected with human glioblastoma cells enriched for such cancer stem cells were treated with a protein called bone morphogenetic protein 4 (BMP4) tumor growth was reduced.The researchers said protein activates BMP receptors which are also involved in normal development. But rather than killing the cancer stem cells it seems BMP4 pushes them to differentiate into benign, non-cancerous cells.

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