The Gander

Pat Kelly | 06 Dec 2018 | 0 Comment(s)

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The Medical Independent blog takes a look at the more unconventional niches in science and research

Stopping the spread of glioblastoma

A team of US researchers has been working on a new therapy which they say can stop the spread of glioblastoma, the deadliest form of brain cancer.

The researchers, based in Virginia Tech in the US, observed that in glioblastoma, tissue fluid is at a higher pressure than normal, causing the rapid spread of cancer cells. The authors also pointed to the fact that injecting the treatment method of delivering a drug directly into a tumour with a catheter can cause this fluid to move even more quickly.

However, using mouse models, the team adapted a drug titled AMD3100 to help prevent metastasis from ‘conversion-enhanced delivery’ and the spread of glioma cells to the rest of the brain.

“It is so deadly and there hasn’t been a shift in treatment response in decades. Something needs to change,” commented Prof Jennifer Munson, author and Assistant Professor at the Department of Biomedical Engineering in the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech.

“With my expertise and looking at fluid flow, maybe there’s an answer there that we haven’t seen,” she said, adding that she hopes the research can raise awareness among oncologists of interstitial fluid flow and its implications.

Lead author Dr Chase Cornilson of Virginia Tech added: “I am hopeful that since the drug that we used to block flow stimulation is currently used in patients that maybe clinicians, when they do consider using convection enhanced delivery, will combine that with this drug.”

The research was published recently in the journal Scientific Reports.

Reprogramming stem cells for the brain 

For the first time, researchers have used reprogrammed stem cells in a human brain in an effort to halt the progression of Parkinson’s disease.

Working in Kyoto University in Japan, the team had already used a procedure similar to the one they used in a human to transplant cells generated from induced pluripotent stem cells (IPSCs) into monkeys, in an effort to relieve symptoms of the condition by restoring activity in dopamine neurotransmitter cells.

At a recent press conference, it was announced that they had carried out the procedure on a human subject and outlined the details. The team built-up a stock of IPSCs, which were reprogrammed, and then differentiated into dopamine neuron precursors.

Stem cell researcher Dr Jun Takahashi explained that in a three-hour procedure, 2.4 million of these precursor cells were inserted into 12 different sites in the patient’s brain. He also revealed that it is planned to conduct a similar procedure in six more patients with Parkinson’s disease in the future.

“The patient is doing well and there have been no major adverse reactions so far,” Dr Takahashi explained. “The best scenario is to see patients improve to the extent they do not have to take any medicine.” If there are no significant complications, Dr Takahashi said his neurosurgeon colleague Dr Takayuki Kikuchi will implant further neurons into different sites within the patient’s brain.

The research was published recently in the journal  Nature.

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