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Newly identified biomarker detects and regulates spread of brain tumors

umoral brain samples also were examined. The researchers found elevated attractin levels in 97 percent of malignant astrocytomas, with the highest levels in grade IV tumors.

The grade of a tumor reflects the level of abnormality its cells exhibit and how quickly the tumor is likely to grow and spread and is a predictor of patient outcome. Low-grade tumors are slow growing and show little abnormality, whereas high-grade tumors are highly abnormal and grow and spread quickly, making treatment more difficult. Patients with highly malignant astrocytomas typically have a life expectancy of about one year even after neurosurgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy, highlighting the pressing need for more research to develop improved therapies.

Equally important, the researchers also found that attractin plays a key role in the motility of the cancer cells, which influences their ability to spread in the brain, a major cause of recurrence of malignant astrocytoma. Secreted by the tumors themselves, attractin induces cancer cells to migrate, although that mechanism is not well understood. Knowing that attractin modulates the migration and possibly the recurrence of these tumors makes it a promising target for future therapeutic intervention, says Dr. Van Meir. "Our studies suggest that measuring attractin levels in patients with grades II-IV astrocytoma should be explored further as a potential biomarker for monitoring the growth of these tumors or as a potential new target for therapy."
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Source:Emory University Health Sciences Center


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