A team of researchers led by URMC neurologists Steven Goldman, M.D., Ph.D. and Romane Auvergne, Ph.D. have successfully pinpointed the unique genetic characteristics of gliomas – a common and potentially deadly form of brain cancer.
The research is yet another example of how the field of stem cell biology is transforming medicine. The source of gliomas – as the name indicates – is a cell in the central nervous system that possesses stem cell-like properties called glial progenitor cells. These cells have been extensively studied, primarily for their potential to repair damage in diseases like multiple sclerosis. In this instance, the scientists were able to exploit this knowledge – and their ability to isolate these cells – to explore the molecular and genetic changes that transform these cells into cancers.
The team was able to identify a set of genes that were over-expressed in the cancerous cells – called tumor stem cells – when compared to normal healthy glial progenitor cells. This abnormal molecular activity, which was present at all stages of the cancer’s growth, provides researchers with a set of targets for potential new therapies. Indeed, when they tested compounds against one of these targets – a gene called SIX1 – the tumor shrank.
The results were published on May 30 in the journal Cell Stem Cell. Read more about the study here.
Mark Michaud |
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