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Irradiating stem cell niche doubles survival in brain cancer patients
Date:7/23/2010

that have transformed into brain cancer stem cells. However, the niche serves as a sort of safe harbor for the cancer stem cells, keeping them away from the site of the tumor but able to re-grow it once it's removed and the malignant areas of the brain have been treated.

Pajonk theorizes that the brain cancer stem cells in the patients whose niches were irradiated with higher doses may have been damaged or eliminated, giving these patients more time before their cancer recurred.

"This suggests that the neural stem cell niche in the brain may be harboring cancer stem cells, thus providing novel therapy targets," the study states. "We hypothesize that higher radiation doses to these niches improve patient survival by eradicating the cancer stem cells."

Glioblastomas are the deadliest form of brain cancer. Surgery, chemotherapy and radiation are not usually effective and life expectancy is about 12 to 18 months. New and more effective treatments are needed to help this patient population, Pajonk said.

The radiation therapy could damage neural stem cells as well as the cancer stem cells, Pajonk said, but those may be replaceable at some future date using induced pluripotent stem cells made from the patient's own cells. The induced pluripotent stem cells, which like embryonic stem cells can make every cell in the body, could be induced into becoming neural stem cells to replace those damaged or eradicated by the radiation to the niche.


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Contact: Kim Irwin
kirwin@mednet.ucla.edu
310-206-2805
University of California - Los Angeles
Source:Eurekalert

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