Glioblastoma cell investigation may lead to new cancer treatments

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A team of researchers, based at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, have conducted a study that sheds new light into how glioblastoma cells successfully invade the brain. Led by Harald Sontheimer, Ph.D, the group examined the interactions between glioblastoma cells, cerebral blood vessels, and astrocytes. Mouse models, fluorescent dyes and varied imaging techniques helped reveal the method by which tumor cells migrate through the brain and interact with other cells. Their research indicated that glioblastoma cells may hijack cerebral blood vessels early in the disease progression, seizing control from the astrocytes and damaging the brain’s protective barrier or BBB (blood-brain barrier). Even tiny groups of tumor cells were able to weaken the brain's protective barrier. In this way, the invading cells extract blood nutrients for themselves and access the brain. But the data also revealed that the invading cells do not derive complete protection from the blood-brain barrier, which may leave them more vulnerable to drugs delivered to the area via the bloodstream. Dr. Sontheimer believes, based on this research, that treatment with anti-invasive agents might be beneficial in early-stage glioblastoma cases. Further research into how the tumor cells interact with the brain's protective barrier may well increase our ability to treat glioblastoma.

Glioblastoma cell investigation may lead to new cancer treatments
Glioblastoma cell investigation may lead to new cancer treatments
Invading glioblastoma cells may hijack cerebral blood vessels during early stages of disease progression and damage the brain's protective barrier, a study in mice indicates. This finding could ultimately lead to new ways to bring about the death of the tumor, as therapies may be able to reach these deadly cells at an earlier time point than was previously thought possible.
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