A group of researchers from the University of Toronto, The Hospital for Sick Children and the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto found that the healing process that follows a brain injury could spur tumour growth when new cells generated to replace those lost to the injury are derailed by mutations.
The findings could lead to a new therapy for patients having glioblastoma, a common brain cancer. These patients have an average lifespan of fifteen months after diagnosis having limited treatment options.
The scientists examined glioblastoma stem cells from 26 patients’ tumours and expanded them in the lab to obtain sufficient numbers of these cells for analysis. Approximately 70,000 cells were analysed. The data suggest that the right mutational change in a particular cell in the brain could be modified by injury to give rise to a tumour. The researchers are now looking for effective drugs.