How brain tumors invade

Scientists have pinpointed a protein that allows brains tumors to invade healthy brain tissue, according to work published this week in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.

40% of a common but deadly type of brain tumor -- called glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) -- have mutations in a gene that encodes a protein called epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). These mutations result in hyper-activation of the protein.

A team led by Frank Furnari of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research at University of California, San Diego now finds that excessive EGFR signals ramp up expression of a protein called GBP1. Without GBP1, normally invasive GBM cells formed much less infiltrative tumors in the brains of mice.

GBP1 rendered tumors more invasive by triggering the production of MMP1, a protein that chops up the tissue around cells, allowing to make inroads into healthy tissue. Additional work is needed to determine if therapies able to cripple GBP1 can contain GBM and impede its invasion into healthy tissue.

More information: Li, M., et al. 2011. J. Exp. Med. doi:10.1084/jem.20111102

Related Stories

A lethal brain tumor's strength may be a weakness as well

date Aug 14, 2010

Malignant gliomas are the most common subtype of primary brain tumor - and one of the deadliest. Even as doctors make steady progress treating other types of solid tumor cancers, from breast to prostate, the most aggressive ...

Old drugs find new target for treating brain tumor

date Nov 18, 2011

Scientists at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center, in collaboration with colleagues in Boston and South Korea, say they have identified a novel ...

MRI: A window to genetic properties of brain tumors

date Mar 24, 2008

Doctors diagnose and prescribe treatment for brain tumors by studying, under a microscope, tumor tissue and cell samples obtained through invasive biopsy or surgery. Now, researchers at UCSD School of Medicine have shown ...

Brain discovery could fight deadly tumors

date Jul 19, 2007

MIT researchers have identified a critical link between two proteins found in brain tumors, a discovery that could eventually help treat a form of brain cancer that kills 99 percent of patients.

Recommended for you

DNA blood test detects lung cancer mutations

date 18 hours ago

Cancer DNA circulating in the bloodstream of lung cancer patients can provide doctors with vital mutation information that can help optimise treatment when tumour tissue is not available, an international group of researchers ...

Tumors prefer the easy way out

date 21 hours ago

Tumor cells become lethal when they spread. Blocking this process can be a powerful way to stop cancer. Historically, scientists thought that tumor cells migrated by brute force, actively pushing through whatever ...

Brain tumors may be new targets of Ebola-like virus

date 21 hours ago

Brain tumors are notoriously difficult for most drugs to reach, but Yale researchers have found a promising but unlikely new ally against brain cancers—portions of a deadly virus similar to Ebola.

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.