Brain tumors share common tricks to survive

October 25, 2017

Different types of brain tumours may use strikingly similar approaches to generate and use energy to survive in the brain, according to a new study* published in PLOS ONE today (Wednesday).

Research from the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute suggests that 4 types of brain tumours, and cancers that have spread to the brain, all generate and use energy with the same, specialised processes.

Using samples from almost 400 patients,** the researchers listened in to the chemical chatter taking place inside the cell by measuring the levels of key chemicals in cells from each type of brain tumour. By comparing the conversations, the researchers made the surprising discovery that similar reactions were taking place in different tumour types.

The results suggest that brain tumours adapt their chemical reactions in very similar ways to survive in the brain, despite starting in very different types of cells and regions.

Professor John Griffiths, co-lead researcher based at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, said: "The revelation that different types of brain tumours appear to be using similar tricks to survive was startling. The next step is to try and understand how these seemingly very different tumour types are able to adapt their energy production to grow. In the future, it might mean that we could develop drugs that specifically damage these survival mechanisms."

Dr Madhu Basetti, co-lead researcher also based at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, said: "Our study is the first to use this approach to compare how different cancers use and produce energy, and look for similarities. The next steps are to investigate whether the same technique could be used to reveal more about how cancers control energy use."

Dr Justine Alford, from Cancer Research UK, said: "Brain tumours are stubbornly hard to treat and we urgently need to find new approaches to tackling them. Research like this that reveals how brain tumours survive will help us find the disease's weaknesses so we can exploit them. Cancer Research UK is prioritising finding new ways to treat brain tumours, and help more people survive the disease."
-end-
Notes to editor:

*Basetti Madhu et al., Exploration of human brain tumour metabolism using pairwise metabolite-metabolite correlation analysis (MMCA) of HR-MAS 1H NMR Spectra, PLOS ONE (2017) The paper will be available here after the embargo lifts: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0185980

**The team used data from eTumour, a previous European research programme, on the chemical contents of 378 patient samples from five different types of brain tumours: glioblastomas, astrocytomas, meningiomas, oligodendrogliomas, and tumours that had spread to the brain, called brain metastases.

Cancer Research UK

Related Brain Articles from Brightsurf:

Glioblastoma nanomedicine crosses into brain in mice, eradicates recurring brain cancer
A new synthetic protein nanoparticle capable of slipping past the nearly impermeable blood-brain barrier in mice could deliver cancer-killing drugs directly to malignant brain tumors, new research from the University of Michigan shows.

Children with asymptomatic brain bleeds as newborns show normal brain development at age 2
A study by UNC researchers finds that neurodevelopmental scores and gray matter volumes at age two years did not differ between children who had MRI-confirmed asymptomatic subdural hemorrhages when they were neonates, compared to children with no history of subdural hemorrhage.

New model of human brain 'conversations' could inform research on brain disease, cognition
A team of Indiana University neuroscientists has built a new model of human brain networks that sheds light on how the brain functions.

Human brain size gene triggers bigger brain in monkeys
Dresden and Japanese researchers show that a human-specific gene causes a larger neocortex in the common marmoset, a non-human primate.

Unique insight into development of the human brain: Model of the early embryonic brain
Stem cell researchers from the University of Copenhagen have designed a model of an early embryonic brain.

An optical brain-to-brain interface supports information exchange for locomotion control
Chinese researchers established an optical BtBI that supports rapid information transmission for precise locomotion control, thus providing a proof-of-principle demonstration of fast BtBI for real-time behavioral control.

Transplanting human nerve cells into a mouse brain reveals how they wire into brain circuits
A team of researchers led by Pierre Vanderhaeghen and Vincent Bonin (VIB-KU Leuven, Université libre de Bruxelles and NERF) showed how human nerve cells can develop at their own pace, and form highly precise connections with the surrounding mouse brain cells.

Brain scans reveal how the human brain compensates when one hemisphere is removed
Researchers studying six adults who had one of their brain hemispheres removed during childhood to reduce epileptic seizures found that the remaining half of the brain formed unusually strong connections between different functional brain networks, which potentially help the body to function as if the brain were intact.

Alcohol byproduct contributes to brain chemistry changes in specific brain regions
Study of mouse models provides clear implications for new targets to treat alcohol use disorder and fetal alcohol syndrome.

Scientists predict the areas of the brain to stimulate transitions between different brain states
Using a computer model of the brain, Gustavo Deco, director of the Center for Brain and Cognition, and Josephine Cruzat, a member of his team, together with a group of international collaborators, have developed an innovative method published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Sept.

Read More: Brain News and Brain Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.