In the news this week: signs that gender may affect GBM prognosis more than originally thought, plus two exciting developments in treating childhood brain tumors – one medical, one surgical. Also, a review of possible warning signs of a brain tumor and the need for a neurological exam. Lastly, a new compound from Memorial Sloan Kettering researchers with promising implications for GBM chemotherapy.
GBM is normally classified as a cancer where sex has a minor effect on survival rates. Yet it may play a larger role than previously assumed. A group of scientists at Washington University School of Medicine just published a study that found that the standard treatment of surgery and TMZ may be more effective in women than men. Another research group in Italy showed similar findings.
DIPG is the most deadly form of brain tumor in children. And a new study just published in Nature Communications found that they could slow DIPG growth by blocking an enzyme called ACVR1, involved in spooling DNA for cell division. The study used animal models. The scientists involved say they are exploring different ACVR1 inhibitors now, so they can safely bring an agent into clinical trials for children.
Most widely used treatments for GBM target rapidly dividing cell lines – as rapid division is one of the hallmarks of a cancerous tumor. Yet these treatments may not kill the cancer’s stem cells, which can allow it to grow back over the long term. Researchers at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center have identified a promising agent which does just that: attacks rapidly dividing GBM, attacks GBM stem cells, and leaves healthy cells intact.
Yet the treatment isn’t ready for clinical trials just yet. The researchers must now determine whether it can cross the blood-brain-barrier and if not, find a way for it to do so. And they must explore side effects to ensure it’s safety.
Here are 8 symptoms that don’t necessarily indicate a brain tumor, but do suggest that a visit to a neurologist, and possibly an MRI, may be warranted. They include cognitive changes, numbness, vision changes, behavior and mood changes, sudden clumsiness, and more.
A biotech firm in Seattle has developed a compound that causes brain tumor and scar tissue to glow under a special light used during surgery, while leaving healthy tissue to appear normal. This means that surgeons can more effectively identify tissue that needs to be removed while staying clear of healthy brain. The compound has now been used in 30 pediatric brain tumor surgeries at Seattle Children’s Hospital, and the trial will soon expand to 114 candidates across the US.