Why brain tumors are hard to treat

Some brain tumor cells develop into blood vessels, forming some of the vasculature needed to support the tumor's growth and challenging conventional wisdom

Jef Akst
Jef Akst

Jef Akst is managing editor of The Scientist, where she started as an intern in 2009 after receiving a master’s degree from Indiana University in April 2009 studying the mating behavior of seahorses.

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New findings may help explain why glioblastomas, one of the most aggressive forms of brain cancer, are often so difficult to treat -- they can feed themselves, by differentiating into the intricate network of blood vessels that nourish the tumor, according to two studies published online today (21 November) in Nature.
Macroscopic pathology of Glioblastoma multiforme
Image: Wikimedia commons,
These results may help explain the failure of some anti-angiogenesis therapies used to fight glioblastomas, as well as point to new possible cancer treatments that target tumor-derived angiogenesis. "The general idea is that the vasculature is created by the normal tissue," said cell biologist Angelo Vescovi of the linkurl:Mendel Institute for Genetics in Rome,; who was not involved in the research. But these papers show that "the tumor itself is actually making its own blood vessels. It's a very different way to look at them."Glioblastomas are noted for their...
R. Wang, et al., "Glioblastoma stem-like cells give rise to tumour endothelium," Nature, doi:10.1038/nature09624, 2010.L. Ricci-Vitiani, et al., " Tumour vascularization via endothelial differentiation of glioblastoma stem-like cells," Nature, doi:10.1038/nature09557, 2010.

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