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Apr 12, 2019

Shutting down deadly pediatric brain cancer at its earliest moments

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, genetics, neuroscience

Cell-by-cell genetic analyses of developing brain tissues in neonatal mice and laboratory models of brain cancer allowed scientists to discover a molecular driver of the highly aggressive, deadly, and treatment-resistant brain cancer, glioblastoma.

Published findings in Cell Stem Cell describe how the single-cell analyses identified a subpopulation of cells critical to formation—the early primitive progenitor cells of oligodendrocyte cells, pri-OPC progenitors, according to Q. Richard Lu, Ph.D., lead investigator and Scientific Director of the Brain Tumor Center at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

The data suggest that reprogramming of primitive oligodendrocyte progenitors into a stem-like state plays an important role in glioma initiation and progression. The researchers’ primary molecular target in the study, a protein called Zfp36l1, launches biological programs that mirror those of healthy early brain development in the mice, but instead help fuel brain cancer growth. The discovery presents an opportunity to find out if new therapeutic approaches can stop glioblastoma at its earliest stages of initial formation or recurrence, Lu said.

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