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Researchers at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center uncover clue to explain invasive brain tumors

Researchers at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center have uncovered a clue to explain the invasive nature of an aggressive kind of brain tumor called glioblastoma multiforme, or gliomas, and their findings are published in this week's online edition of the journal Oncogene.

Reid Thompson, M.D., director of Neurosurgical Oncology, and his colleague, Moneeb Ehtesham, M.D., assistant professor of Neurological Surgery and Cancer Biology, found a key receptor plays a role in the spread of this tumor.

"We looked at CXCR4, a molecule which has been shown to play a role in other cancers, and found that the more metastatic aggression relates to this molecule. So, we looked at whether this molecule governed this invasion in gliomas," said Ehtesham.

CXCR4 is a receptor that is found in white blood cells and has been shown to play a key role in regulating the movement of cells in the immune system. Finding something to inhibit CXCR4 could potentially lead to treatment options to prevent cancerous cells from moving to other organs.

In animal models, Thompson and Ehtesham found CXCR4 can, in fact, be linked to cell invasion in glioblastoma. "If we look at a brain cancer model in rodents we can see a difference in CXCR4 expression in invasive and non-invasive cells. We found CXCR4 was expressed in the non-invasive cells, but was much higher in invasive cells, or cells from the core of the tumor and cells that had migrated away," said Ehtesham. Thompson said it was significantly higher, "up to thirty- to fortyfold higher in the invasive cells," he added.

Next, Thompson and Ehtesham looked at CXCR4 more closely, in dish studies. They wanted to determine whether cells that have CXCR4 invade more than cells without the molecule. They induced glioblastoma and forced the cells to migrate, comparing migrating brain tumor cells with the cells at the origin of the cancer. Their findings were consistent with the animal studies -- CXCR4 was again muc
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Contact: Heather Hall
heather.l.hall@vanderbilt.edu
615-936-7245
Vanderbilt University Medical Center
10-Jan-2006


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