Most Common Brain Cancer May Start In Neural Stem Cells

Most Common Brain Cancer May Start In Neural Stem Cells

Glioblastoma, the type of cancer that is diagnosed in about 10,000 Americans (and is the type suffered by U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy) each year, may originate in neural stem cells located in the brain.

Scientists studying in Michigan have found that a deficiency in a key tumor suppressor gene in the brain leads to Glioblastoma, the most common type of adult brain cancer. The study, conducted in mice that mimic human cancer, points the way to more effective future treatments and a way to screen for the disease early.

“We have to pay more attention to the stem cell niche” in both early detection and treatment, says Yuan Zhu, Ph.D., the study’s senior author and assistant professor in the departments of internal medicine and cell and developmental biology at the U-M Medical School.

If glioblastoma originates in neural stem cells in the subventricular zone in humans as it does in mice, the study suggests that doctors need to direct treatments there, as well as to the tumor, to eliminate the source of the cancer and keep it from returning, Zhu says.

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