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How normal cells become brain cancers
Date:9/28/2011

er brain tumors.

Why Divisions Matter to Cancer

Oligodendrogliomas are unusual among brain tumors because they often respond to chemotherapy drugs. However, the tumor frequently returns in a form that is resistant to chemotherapy and requires repeated surgical removal.

Petritsch and her colleagues first discovered last year that oligodendroglioma tumors derive from a type of progenitor cell called "oligodendrocyte progenitors" that proliferate in the brain throughout life. These progenitors may also play an important role when the brain is injured by multiplying rapidly and helping heal wounds.

The new studies in mice suggest that lacking an injury, these progenitors divide mostly asymmetrically, maintaining an equilibrium of these cells within the brain. Progenitors can also switch gears and divide symmetrically instead. Scientists believe that allows the brain to provide an expanded pool of cells when needed.

Using mouse models of the tumors as well as tissue samples taken from people with the disease, Petritsch and her colleagues showed that before the tumors arise, the cells preemptively make this switch, transforming from dividing asymmetrically to dividing symmetrically.


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Contact: Jason Socrates Bardi
jason.bardi@ucsf.edu
415-502-6397
University of California - San Francisco
Source:Eurekalert  

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