Stopping tumors in their path

January 8, 2014, McGill University

Glioblastoma (GBM) is the most common and deadly form of primary malignant brain cancer accounting for approximately 15% of all brain tumours and occurring mostly in adults between the ages of 45 and 70. The aggressive recurrent nature of this cancer is only temporarily contained by combined surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatment. The recurrence of GBM is usually fatal, resulting in an average patient survival time of less than two years. A new study from the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital – The Neuro - at McGill University, published in Nature Communications, identifies two specific key players in the growth of GBM.

A GBM tumour contains a complex combination of different cell types, including 'stem-like' cells that are able to initiate tumour growth, even when present in very small numbers. These cells, known as brain-tumour initiating cells (BTICs), are believed to be among the cells that can re-initiate GBM if they are not completely eradicated through surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. Thus, BTICs represent an important therapeutic target for GBM treatment strategies.

"We wanted to find out how GBM-derived BTICs are able to initiate a tumour with the ultimate goal of preventing the re-growth of this deadly form of ," says Dr. Stefano Stifani, neuroscientist at The Neuro and senior investigator on the paper. "What we found is that by impairing the activity of two transcription factors (proteins that control gene expression), termed FOXG1 and TLE, we can significantly reduce the ability of BTICs to give rise to brain tumours." The researchers studied growth in an in vivo mouse model using human GBM-derived BTICs. This approach provides what is called an in vivo environment that closely resembles the original human brain tumours. The demonstration that the FOXG1 and TLE proteins are important for the tumour-forming ability of human GBM-derived BTICs has long-term implications because FOXG1 and TLE control the expression of numerous genes. Identifying the genes whose expression is controlled by FOXG1 and TLE is expected to provide further information on the mechanisms involved in GBM tumourigenesis. In the long term, researchers hope to identify multiple important regulators, in order to find new potential therapeutic targets to impair the tumourigenic ability of BTICs.

"The implication of transcription factors FOXG1 and TLE in the tumour-forming ability of BTICs opens the door to possible strategies to block – a major advance in the fight against GBM."

The Neuro's Brain Tumour Program sees 3500 patients annually, and performs on average 450 tumour procedures per year. These procedures include surgeries for brain cancers such as GBM and other gliomas, as well as meningiomas, vestibular schwannomas, pituitary adenomas, metastases, among others.

This research, which was supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Cancer Research Society, highlights the benefits of The Neuro's integrated model – where clinicians collaborate closely with researchers, to significantly advance neuroscience and clinical care for patients with neurological disease.

Explore further: Blunting brain tumor growth with immune activation

Related Stories

Blunting brain tumor growth with immune activation

December 8, 2013
Researchers at the University of Calgary's Hotchkiss Brain Institute (HBI) have made a discovery that could lead to better treatment for patients suffering from brain cancer.

Blocking tumor-associated macrophages decreased glioblastoma's growth, extended survival in mice

December 15, 2013
An experimental drug that targets macrophages, a type of immune cells, in the microenvironment surrounding the lethal brain tumor glioblastoma multiforme decreased the cancer's growth and extended survival of laboratory mice ...

Personalized vaccine for most lethal type of brain tumor shows promise

December 16, 2013
Patients with recurrent glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) treated with an experimental vaccine made from the patient's own resected tumor tissue showed an improved survival compared with historical patients who received the standard ...

A thought-provoking new therapeutic target for brain cancer?

February 1, 2012
Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the most common of all malignant brain tumors that originate in the brain. Patients with GBM have a poor prognosis because it is a highly aggressive form of cancer that is commonly resistant ...

Promising target found for better brain cancer drugs

November 20, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—The deadliest brain cancer requires grueling treatment with bleak prospects for survival. Cornell researchers have discovered a key component to how these aggressive tumors grow that could lead to better ...

Team reveals novel way to treat drug-resistant brain tumor cells

June 1, 2012
New research from the University of Wisconsin-Madison explains why the incurable brain cancer, glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), is highly resistant to current chemotherapies.

Recommended for you

The pill lowers ovarian cancer risk, even for smokers

January 18, 2018
(HealthDay)—It's known that use of the birth control pill is tied to lower odds for ovarian cancer, but new research shows the benefit extends to smokers or women who are obese.

Single blood test screens for eight cancer types

January 18, 2018
Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center researchers developed a single blood test that screens for eight common cancer types and helps identify the location of the cancer.

Researchers find a way to 'starve' cancer

January 18, 2018
Researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) have demonstrated for the first time that it is possible to starve a tumor and stop its growth with a newly discovered small compound that blocks uptake of the vital ...

How cancer metastasis happens: Researchers reveal a key mechanism

January 18, 2018
Cancer metastasis, the migration of cells from a primary tumor to form distant tumors in the body, can be triggered by a chronic leakage of DNA within tumor cells, according to a team led by Weill Cornell Medicine and Memorial ...

Modular gene enhancer promotes leukemia and regulates effectiveness of chemotherapy

January 18, 2018
Every day, billions of new blood cells are generated in the bone marrow. The gene Myc is known to play an important role in this process, and is also known to play a role in cancer. Scientists from the German Cancer Research ...

These foods may up your odds for colon cancer

January 18, 2018
(HealthDay)—Chowing down on red meat, white bread and sugar-laden drinks might increase your long-term risk of colon cancer, a new study suggests.

0 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.