Glioblastoma is the most destructive form of cancer because of its ability to migrate and plant new tumors in the brain. A new study revealed that after surgically removing these tumors, special stem cells from fat tissue were able to chase the cancer cells and track difficult regions in the brain prone to remission.
The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE by researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
While scientists can't tell why stem cells behave this way, they are naturally drawn to the damaged areas like wounds. This lead researchers to unearth a new method: use stem cells as transporters for drugs to deliver treatment in the cancer spreading regions.
"The biggest challenge in brain cancer is the migration of cancer cells. Even when we remove the tumor, some of the cells have already slipped away and are causing damage somewhere else," said Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa, lead researcher and professor of neurosurgery, oncology and neuroscience at Johns Hopkins. "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. It's truly personalized medicine."
Harvesting the mesenchymal stem cells from the adipose tissue, or fat, is also safer and inexpensive compared to today's method of getting stem cells from bone marrow, scientists said.
While it will take years before a clinical trial makes its way into the U.S., current treatments for the dreaded disease include radiation, chemotherapy and surgery which only extends the life of a brain cancer patient for 18 months at most.
Glioblastoma muliforme recently gained notoriety when the late-Sen. Teddy Kennedy died after battling the brain disease for more than a year.
Out of 17,000 cases of brain tumors diagnosed each year in the United States, 60 percent are gliomas, according to Medscape.
Published by Medicaldaily.com