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Researchers discover brain tumor's 'grow-or-go' switch
Date:3/11/2010

COLUMBUS, Ohio Cancer cells in rapidly growing brain tumors must adjust to periods of low energy or die. When energy levels are high, tumor cells grow and proliferate. When levels are low, the cells grow less and migrate more.

Researchers at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center-Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute have discovered the switch responsible for this grow-or-go behavior.

Their study shows that a molecule called miR-451 coordinates the change, and that the change is accompanied by slower cell proliferation and an increase in cell migration.

This behavior was closely linked to the cancer's ability to invade and spread. For this reason the molecule might serve as a biomarker to predict how long patients with the brain tumor glioblastoma multiforme will survive and may serve as a target to develop drugs to fight these tumors.

The researchers found that glioblastoma cells shift from their typical means of metabolizing glucose a sugar brought by the bloodstream and usually used for energy to an alternate means that consumes resources within the cell.

The findings are published in the March 12 issue of the journal Molecular Cell. "

Our study reveals how brain tumor cells adapt to their surroundings and survive conditions that might fatally starve them of energy," says co-author Dr. E. Antonio Chiocca, professor and chair of Neurological Surgery at Ohio State. "We have discovered that glioblastoma cells use miR451 to sense the availability of a nutrient glucose.

"Levels of miR-451 directly shut down the engine of the tumor cell if there in no glucose or rev it up if there is lots of glucose. This important insight suggests that this molecule might be useful as a biomarker to predict a glioblastoma patient's prognosis, and that it might be used as a target to develop drugs to fight these tumors."

About 10,000 new cases of glioblastoma multiforme occur annual
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Contact: Darrell E. Ward
Darrell.Ward@osumc.edu
614-293-3737
Ohio State University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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