Genetic material secreted by bone marrow cells was used to reduce glioma tumor volume in a recent study.

The project centered on the use of exosomes culled from bone marrow stromal cells (MSCs). As explained in a statement from Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, Michigan, where the research was conducted, exosomes are microscopic “lipid bubbles” that carry RNA.

Exosomes containing the microRNA (miR) 146b, which [previously had been found to have a strong effect on glioma tumor cells, were injected into glioma tumor cells that had been implanted into laboratory rats 5 days earlier. Glioma is the most common type of malignant brain tumor, and is associated with a poor prognosis for survival.

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When the gliomas were measured 5 days after exosome injection, tumor volume had been significantly reduced.

“Our data suggest that miR-146b elicits an antitumor effect in the rat brain, and that MSCs can be used as a ‘factory’ to generate exosomes genetically altered to contain miR-146b to effectively treat tumors,” noted investigator Michael Chopp, PhD, in the Henry Ford statement.

Chopp, who is the scientific director of the Henry Ford Neuroscience Institute and vice chairman of the Department of Neurology at Henry Ford Hospital, and his fellow researchers detailed their findings in Cancer Letters.