Monday, 3 Oct 2022

Understanding why deadly brain cancer comes back

The deadliest form of brain cancer returns because tumours adapt to treatment by recruiting help from nearby healthy tissue, say researchers who are trying to find a cure for the disease.

A new study, by a global team including University of Leeds experts, has found that in response to treatment, high-grade gliomas appear to remodel the surrounding brain environment, potentially creating interactions with nearby neurons and immune cells in ways that protect the tumour cells and hide them from the body’s defences.

The team also found that lower grade tumours often develop a new mutation that allows the cells to start dividing more rapidly, potentially catapulting them into a higher-grade form.

Glioma brain tumours are rare, but a diagnosis is devastating because there is currently no cure. Low-grade gliomas have a better survival rate than, but often progress to high-grade gliomas. More than 90% of patients with high-grade tumours die within five years.

Current treatments include surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. The findings indicate that new drugs are needed to supplement these.

Dr Lucy Stead, Associate Professor of Brain Cancer Biology in the University of Leeds’ School of Medicine, and the lead UK academic for the study, said: “The brain is a hugely complex organ made up of lots of different types of cells, and brain tumours are equally diverse and complicated.

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