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Some Immature Brain Cells May Promote Tumors
Date:1/7/2008

e for silencing genes that would otherwise prevent many other cancers.

Methylation, the chemical process that could be behind allowing cancer growth, is also key to the growth of cells in young brains, said the researchers, who found that demethylating the newly created cells caused them to behave more normally and in a similar way to brain cells in embryos, confirming the researchers' suspicion that immature brain cells may be at the root of cancer growth.

The team then analyzed 54 glioblastoma multiforme tumors and found that one in five (20 percent) contained signs of the same difficulty with the BMP2 gene that the researchers saw in the lab. These tumors were also methylated.

"This research highlights an example of a stem cell whose normal development has been blocked in such a way as to prevent it from differentiating as well as to force it to contribute to the development of an aggressive tumor," research leader Dr. Howard Fine, chief of the Neuro-Oncology Branch at the NCI's Center for Cancer Research, said in a prepared statement. "The results we have generated can help us better understand the biology of neuronal stem-like starter cells in glioblastoma multiforme and other cancers, and give us a strong rationale for investigating BMPR1B as a potential target for therapeutic development."

The study was published in the January issue of Cancer Cell.

More information

To learn more about brain and spinal cord cancers visit the American Cancer Society.



-- Madeline Vann



SOURCE: National Cancer Institute, news release, Jan. 7, 2008


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