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Cellular Origin Of Deadly Brain Cancer Identified

Al Musella's Comments: (This is his personal views and are not necessarily the views of the Musella Foundation!)


Posted on: 07/16/2011

Cellular Origin Of Deadly Brain Cancer Identified

The Peak 104.1

Researchers at the University of Oregon work to fight a deadly human brain cancer
Researchers at the University of Oregon work to fight a deadly human brain cancer

EUGENE, OR -- Researchers at the University of Oregon and Stanford University have isolated the cellular origin for malignant glioma, a deadly human brain cancer. UO biologist Hui Zong says they discovery that oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs) are the point of origin for this specific cancer, and the first to display "significant overexpansion and aberrant growth. Zong said to study cancer, you have to understand the route of attack, and by using a process call Mosaic Analysis with Double Markers, or MADM, they can probe stages that are inaccessible to researchers using conventional tools.

"With conventional research methods," Zong said, using a football analogy, "we saw a snapshot when the ball goes to the quarterback, and then suddenly we see the touchdown: Cancer, six points. That is obviously not enough for us to understand cancer's attacking strategies."

"Our system lets us watch the action from the beginning, to watch every direction, every hand off or pass, before a tumor forms," Zong continued.

"Another key feature is the concurrent creation of a normal red cell whenever a mutant green cell is generated. In effect, we can compare every player's movement with or without the ball; the mutations," he said. "If they are doing the same thing, we know they are not attacking. If they are doing different things, we know something is wrong, and should focus our attention to tackle the particular player, the cell type, to prevent a tumor from advancing down the field."

Malignant glioma is diagnosed in 10,000 Americans annually, with most patients dying within two years. Victims have included U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy, pianist George Gershwin and film critic Gene Siskel.

"Studying cancer in this way should not only lead to molecular diagnostics to detect the earliest emergence of any cancers, but also allow us to understand the molecular mechanisms by which initial mutant cells progressively gain advantages over normal cells," Zong said. "This type of knowledge should eventually enable us to set up multi-point tackling plans to increase the efficacy of cancer treatment."

For more on the research, visit the UO's Website.



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