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Disrupting the Regeneration of Brain Tumors

Brain tumors such as glioblastomas are exceptionally difficult to treat since, irrespective of how they were treated, they find a way to regenerate. This ability can be attributed to cancer stem cells that circumvent treatment and trigger the expansion of new tumor cells. Recently, scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis discovered a way to disrupt the regeneration of brain tumors by disrupting a key player in the brain tumor stem cell maintenance process.

The researchers identified a protein called SOX2 that is active in brain tumor stem cells and found that a second protein, CDC20, was able to activate or deactivate the stem cells’ ability to make SOX2. They found that elevating the levels of SOX2 by increasing the levels of CDC20 increased the ability of a tumor transplanted into mice to grow. Furthermore, eliminating CDC20 prevented the stem cells from making SOX2, which reduced their ability to form tumors.

Interestingly, upon analyzing human glioblastoma tumor samples, the scientists found that patients with the highest levels of CDC20 had the shortest survival time post-diagnosis. Currently, methods to block CDC20 in brain tumors are being explored, with RNA interference being a possible approach as it has been successfully used to treat other cancers and diseases.

Source: Washington University School of Medicine

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