New knowledge could lead to improved treatment of brain tumors
Researchers have now found that so-called brain tumor cells need fats in order to continue their growth. These findings could have a major impact on how the mostly fatal disease is treated.
Brain tumors are a rare form of cancer that only make up about two percent of all cancers. Malignant tumors in the brain are very dangerous and difficult to treat. Unfortunately, such serious diseases are often fatal. Scientists from the University of Newcastle have now found that tumors of this type require fats to continue growing. The doctors published the results of their study in the journal "Neuro-Oncology".
Gliomas need fats to grow
Researchers at Newcastle University are now studying the behavior of so-called gliomas. These are the most common form of malignant brain tumors. The new results of the study seem to contradict the widespread belief that these cells are primarily fed by sugar, the scientists explain. Apparently, the malignant disease requires fats to grow instead. Experts warn that brain tumors can affect anyone.
Can the growth of tumors be slowed down?
Blocking the ability to use fats may also slow tumor growth, the researchers say. The new study examined tumor tissue donated by patients as well as the diseased tissue of test mice. Different cells in our body also use different types of energy sources, explains Dr. Elizabeth Stoll from the Newcastle University Institute of Neuroscience.
Brain tumors need sugar instead of fats for energy
Many cells normally use sugar, but it turns out that these malignant brain cell tumors actually use fats to produce the energy they need, the authors explain. By blocking this ability, we could actually slow the growth of the tumor, the scientists said. The findings of the study are very important because we urgently need new possibilities for intervention, emphasizes Dr. Stoll.
What are gliomas and glial cells?
Glioma is a collective term for some types of tumors in the brain. These most often arise from so-called glial cells, which represent the supporting and nutritional tissue of the nerve cells, the experts explain. The cells mainly appear in the brain, but can also be found in the area of the spinal cord and cranial nerves
So far, there is little reason to hope for a malignant glioma
Malignant glioma patients currently have a very poor prognosis. Therefore, doctors are urgently looking for new interventions to increase the survival and quality of life of those affected, explains Dr. Stoll. Certain population groups also appear to be at greater risk of disease. Another study recently found that academics are more likely to develop brain tumors.
Over 500 children develop brain tumors every year
Over 500 children and adolescents develop a brain tumor every year. Of these, more than half (58 percent) die within a year, the authors say. In comparison, the figures for breast cancer are five percent, 35 percent for leukemia and seven percent for prostate cancer, the experts add. In view of the low chances of survival, new treatment options for malignant brain tumors are urgently needed and the connection with the required fats could offer an approach for future therapies. (as)