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Most common brain cancer may originate in neural stem cells
Date:6/1/2009

glioblastoma. The U-M scientists show that the expression of mutant p53 protein is a marker for glioma cells in all stages of the disease.

"Now, if we believe that the SVZ is the location of the cells of origin, with enhanced resolution we could detect tumor cells there," says Zhu. If it's possible to detect the disease early, the chances of treatment success should improve.

The link between neural stem cells and this aggressive type of cancer is a warning sign for scientists to proceed carefully with new treatments for neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's disease, where the hope is to use neural stem cells to help regenerate lost nerve function, says Zhu.

"Our results in mice show that these neural stem cells in the brain have high potential to accumulate genetic lesions and to become a cellular target for cancerous cells," he says. " To some degree, the cancerous cells in early stages are not much different from normal stem cells, but aberrantly combine the key features of neural stem cells (self-renewal) and specialized progenies (migration). We have to understand these stem cells more extensively before we can harness them to treat disease."

Context:

Glioblastoma, also called glioblastoma multiforme, is notoriously hard to treat. It returns in most cases despite virtually all current therapies, which include surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. Survival rates have not improved for two decades, a fact that the new insights into p53 may help explain.

The results found in mice add specific new insights to an unfolding picture of how genes go awry to result in brain cancer. Scientists recently learned that certain genes and pathways of cell action are altered in glioblastoma. One of these key alterations involves mutations in genes that are players in the p53 pathway. But until now, scientists have not known what cell type initiates the cancer, or precisely how a deficiency in p53-mediated pat
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Contact: Nicole Fawcett
nfawcett@umich.edu
734-764-2220
University of Michigan Health System
Source:Eurekalert

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