Stem-like cells found to drive growth of aggressive pediatric brain tumors

A team of researchers at Baylor College of Medicine, Texas Children's Hospital, the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto and collaborating institutions has identified and located a population of stem-like cells that initiates and maintains Group 3 medulloblastoma (Gr3-MB) in the developing brain.

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A team of researchers at Baylor College of Medicine, Texas Children's Hospital, the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto and collaborating institutions has identified and located a population of stem-like cells that initiates and maintains Group 3 medulloblastoma (Gr3-MB) in the developing brain. Gr3-MB is one of the most aggressive forms of brain cancer in children and is associated with metastatic spread and poor survival. The researchers showed that eliminating the small population of stem-like cells present in Gr3-MB tumors led to tumor shrinkage in preclinical models.

Although more research is needed, this novel approach may lead to new ways to treat children with Gr3-MB. The study appeared in Cell . "We believe that as Gr3-MB develops, it retains characteristics present in embryonic development, resulting in rapid tumor growth," said corresponding author Dr.



Michael D. Taylor, professor of pediatrics, hematology – oncology and neurosurgery at Baylor and Texas Children's. He also is the Cyvia and Melvyn Wolff Chair of Pediatric Neuro-Oncology at Texas Children's Cancer and Hematology Center.

"Our goal was to identify embryonic cells that would give rise to tumors, as well as their location and factors that drive their growth." The researchers compared the genes expressed by Gr3-MB cells from six tumors with those expressed by human fetal hindbrain cells during the first trimester of pregnancy. We found trace of a lineage of embryonic stem-like cells in Gr3-MB tumors.

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