Fighting Brain Cancer with Fat!
(Ivanhoe Newswire) – Being diagnosed with glioblastoma, the most common and aggressive type of brain tumor, can seem like a death sentence considering many people don’t survive longer than 18 months after diagnosis, even with treatment. However, a new study hopes to change that. Researchers from Johns Hopkins found that a certain kind of stem cell from human fat tissue may be able to track down cancer cells and deliver treatment directly to the brain.
In the study, researchers carried out test tube experiments with mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), taken from fat or bone marrow. Most of the MSCs were bought, but researchers also removed fat from two patients and grew their own stem cells.
When comparing the three cell lines, all proliferated, migrated, stayed alive and kept their potential as stem cells, meaning the stem cells could be taken from fat and placed somewhere else without losing their properties.
In the case of glioblastoma, destroying all of the cancer cells is difficult to do with traditional treatments.
“Even when we remove the tumor, some of the cells have already slipped away and are causing damage somewhere else,” study leader Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa, M.D., Professor of Neurosurgery, Oncology and Neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, was quoted as saying.
The primary benefit to using the MSCs harvested from fat is the MSCs are able to find damaged cells, including those related to cancer. So, researchers believe that once initial treatment is completed, they could send in these MSCs manipulated to hold drugs or a different treatment in the hopes they would seek out and kill any lingering cancer cells.
"Building off our findings, we may be able to find a way to arm a patient's own healthy cells with the treatment needed to chase down those cancer cells and destroy them,” Dr. Quinones-Hinojosa was quoted as saying.
While the findings so far are very exciting, it will be years before the possible treatment is tested in human trials, but MSCs have been examined in other studies to see if they have any applications for treating Parkinson’s disease, ALS, and other diseases.
So while you may not soon see MSCs in glioblastoma treatment plans anytime soon, they could make an appearance in a different way.
Source: PLOS ONE, March 2013