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Brain Tumor Drug May Help Spur Cancer's Return
Date:3/5/2009

But insights into how that happens may lead to ways around it, researchers say,,,,

THURSDAY, March 5 (HealthDay News) -- Temozolomide, a standard treatment for brain cancer, may boost the aggressiveness of surviving cancer cells, making tumor recurrence more likely, a new study suggests.

The research team, from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, have identified cells in brain tumors called gliomas that have stem cell-like qualities and are able to survive chemotherapy with the help of a particular protein. These surviving cells become drug-resistant, and may be the reason treatment for brain cancer is usually unsuccessful.

"Stem-like cells are found in brain tumors, and the mutations that occur in high-grade tumors promote the stem cell character of tumor cells," explained lead researcher Dr. Eric Holland, director of Sloan-Kettering's Brain Tumor Center. "Furthermore, the standard therapy for brain tumors -- although beneficial against many of the tumor cells -- actually promotes stem cell character in the cells that survive."

The report is published in the March 6 issue of Cell Stem Cell.

According to the American Cancer Society, nearly 22,000 Americans were diagnosed with a malignant tumor of the brain or spinal cord in 2008, and more than 13,000 died from these cancers. Brain tumors also gained prominence this past year after Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) was diagnosed with a particularly aggressive type of cancer known as a malignant glioma.

For the new study, Holland's team looked at the role of the protein ABCG2, which is associated with resistance to drugs in brain cancer cells. This protein transports drugs across the cell's membrane, which would otherwise shield the tumor cell from chemotherapy drugs, Holland explained.

The researchers isolated cells from mice and human cancer brain tumors called glioblastomas. Some of these cells appeared to have t
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