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Researcher Finds Way to Slow Spread of Brain Tumors (PR Newswire) A New York Medical College neurophysiologist is closer to proving a new and non-invasive treatment for patients with glioblastomas. These common and virulent brain tumors are actively killing normal brain tissue to support their own growth. - Aug 30 5:00 PM ET


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Posted on: 08/30/2001

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Thursday August 30, 5:00 pm Eastern Time

Press Release

SOURCE: New York Medical College

Researcher Finds Way to Slow Spread of Brain Tumors

VALHALLA, N.Y., Aug. 30 /PRNewswire/ -- A New York Medical College neurophysiologist is closer to proving a new and non-invasive treatment for patients with glioblastomas. These common and virulent brain tumors are actively killing normal brain tissue to support their own growth. The new evidence points to glutamate, an essential and ubiquitous neurotransmitter released by glioblastoma cells, which is toxic to the surrounding nerve cells.

The theory belongs to Maiken Nedergaard, M.D., Ph.D., professor of cell biology and anatomy who lives in South Salem, N.Y., and her associate Takahiro Takano. Their study on gliobliastomas, funded by the National Institutes of Health, will appear as the cover story in the September issue of the journal NATURE MEDICINE.

Dr. Nedergaard may have discovered an entirely new approach to slowing or stopping the growth of these malignant cells. When the destructive glutamate substance is released by glioblastomas, it kills surrounding brain cells, making the malignancy grow even faster. Drugs that can suppress glutamate production, or foil glutamate binding to receptors on normal brain cells, would slow a tumor's growth.

Using bioluminescence to identify the presence of glutamate, Dr. Nedergaard noticed that tumor cells releasing high levels of glutamate grew 15-fold more rapidly than those where glutamate was not found. Additionally, tumor growth and cell death were accelerated in the inflamed area around the glutamate-secreting glioblastomas.

The finding may have immediate impact upon the treatment of patients since drugs that target glutamate can be combined with both traditional chemotherapy and surgery. Glutamate toxicity has previously been noted with stroke, head trauma, multiple sclerosis and other neurodegenerative diseases, but never before with glioblastomas.

SOURCE: New York Medical College

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