Nav: Home

Cancer tumours form surprising connections with healthy brain cells

September 27, 2019

In a collaborative study by the University of Bergen, Universität Heidelberg and Das Deutsche Krebsforschungszentrum in Germany, researchers discovered that cancer cells in the brain communicate with healthy brain cells in a different way than previously assumed.

"We were surprised to learn that neurons form synapses with cancer cells, which we thought only healthy cells do," says Professor Hrvoje Miletic of the Department of Biomedicine at the University of Bergen (UiB).

Disturbing signals

The job of synapses is to transmit signals between the cells, which tell them what to do. Previously, researchers have assumed that only healthy cells form such synapses to communicate with each other.

Researchers have known that cancer cells communicate with healthy neurons, but not how. Thanks to the neuroscience expertise at Heidelberg University and brain cancer models from UiB, researchers could see how neurons form synaptic connections with cancer cells, stimulating cancer growth.

"The new insight has allowed us to open a completely new field to understand malignant brain cancer and how to attack it. Controlled testing of anti-epileptic medicine is perhaps a possible new strategy," Miletic says.

Anti-epileptic medicine against brain cancer

In epilepsy, neurons overreact, transmitting a slew of uncontrolled electrical impulses. The new research shows that impulses from neurons are transmitted to cancer cells through synapses and transformed into signals in cancer cells that stimulate growth.

Brain tumour patients often have epilepsy and are periodically put on anti-epileptic medications, but quit taking them after the seizures stop. Consequently, a future controlled study of anti-epileptic drugs could show whether there is a therapeutic effect in brain tumour patients.

"If we have a better understanding of how microtubules and synapses are formed, the mechanisms behind this and the kind of messages sent between the cancer cells, then we can find out what impact this has on cancer development and treatment," says Hrvoje Miletic.
-end-
Facts:
  • Researchers from the University of Bergen have participated in an international project with researchers, including the German cancer research centre DKFZ and Heidelberg University.
  • Hrvoje Miletic heads the Miletic Lab that conducts research on so-called microtubules, which are tubular extensions inside the cells. Malignant cancer cells in the brain use these microtubules to form a communications network in the brain.
  • In 2018, the Norwegian Cancer Society gave NOK 4 million to research microtubules, the communications network of brain cancer.


The University of Bergen

Related Cancer Cells Articles:

New liver cancer research targets non-cancer cells to blunt tumor growth
'Senotherapy,' a treatment that uses small molecule drugs to target ''senescent'' cells, or those cells that no longer undergo cell division, blunts liver tumor progression in animal models according to new research from a team led by Celeste Simon, PhD, a professor of Cell and Developmental Biology in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and scientific director of the Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute.
Drug that keeps surface receptors on cancer cells makes them more visible to immune cells
A drug that is already clinically available for the treatment of nausea and psychosis, called prochlorperazine (PCZ), inhibits the internalization of receptors on the surface of tumor cells, thereby increasing the ability of anticancer antibodies to bind to the receptors and mount more effective immune responses.
Engineered bone marrow cells slow growth of prostate and pancreatic cancer cells
In experiments with mice, researchers at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center say they have slowed the growth of transplanted human prostate and pancreatic cancer cells by introducing bone marrow cells with a specific gene deletion to induce a novel immune response.
First phase i clinical trial of CRISPR-edited cells for cancer shows cells safe and durable
Following the first US test of CRISPR gene editing in patients with advanced cancer, researchers report these patients experienced no negative side effects and that the engineered T cells persisted in their bodies -- for months.
Zika virus' key into brain cells ID'd, leveraged to block infection and kill cancer cells
Two different UC San Diego research teams identified the same molecule -- αvβ5 integrin -- as Zika virus' key to brain cell entry.
Plant-derived SVC112 hits cancer stem cells, leaves healthy cells alone
Study shows Colorado drug SVC112 stops production of proteins that cancer stem cells need to survive and grow.
Changes in the metabolism of normal cells promotes the metastasis of ovarian cancer cells
A systematic examination of the tumor and the tissue surrounding it -- particularly normal cells in that tissue, called fibroblasts -- has revealed a new treatment target that could potentially prevent the rapid dissemination and poor prognosis associated with high-grade serous carcinoma (HGSC), a tumor type that primarily originates in the fallopian tubes or ovaries and spreads throughout the abdominal cavity.
The development of brain stem cells into new nerve cells and why this can lead to cancer
Stem cells are true Jacks-of-all-trades of our bodies, as they can turn into the many different cell types of all organs.
White blood cells related to allergies may also be harnessed to destroy cancer cells
A new Tel Aviv University study finds that white blood cells which are responsible for chronic asthma and modern allergies may be used to eliminate malignant colon cancer cells.
Conversion of breast cancer cells into fat cells impedes the formation of metastases
An innovative combination therapy can force malignant breast cancer cells to turn into fat cells.
More Cancer Cells News and Cancer Cells Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Our Relationship With Water
We need water to live. But with rising seas and so many lacking clean water – water is in crisis and so are we. This hour, TED speakers explore ideas around restoring our relationship with water. Guests on the show include legal scholar Kelsey Leonard, artist LaToya Ruby Frazier, and community organizer Colette Pichon Battle.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#568 Poker Face Psychology
Anyone who's seen pop culture depictions of poker might think statistics and math is the only way to get ahead. But no, there's psychology too. Author Maria Konnikova took her Ph.D. in psychology to the poker table, and turned out to be good. So good, she went pro in poker, and learned all about her own biases on the way. We're talking about her new book "The Biggest Bluff: How I Learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself, and Win".
Now Playing: Radiolab

Uncounted
First things first: our very own Latif Nasser has an exciting new show on Netflix. He talks to Jad about the hidden forces of the world that connect us all. Then, with an eye on the upcoming election, we take a look back: at two pieces from More Perfect Season 3 about Constitutional amendments that determine who gets to vote. Former Radiolab producer Julia Longoria takes us to Washington, D.C. The capital is at the heart of our democracy, but it's not a state, and it wasn't until the 23rd Amendment that its people got the right to vote for president. But that still left DC without full representation in Congress; D.C. sends a "non-voting delegate" to the House. Julia profiles that delegate, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, and her unique approach to fighting for power in a virtually powerless role. Second, Radiolab producer Sarah Qari looks at a current fight to lower the US voting age to 16 that harkens back to the fight for the 26th Amendment in the 1960s. Eighteen-year-olds at the time argued that if they were old enough to be drafted to fight in the War, they were old enough to have a voice in our democracy. But what about today, when even younger Americans are finding themselves at the center of national political debates? Does it mean we should lower the voting age even further? This episode was reported and produced by Julia Longoria and Sarah Qari. Check out Latif Nasser's new Netflix show Connected here. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.