December 16, 2002
Neural Stem Cells Fight Glioma Brain Tumors

At this point in time a diagnosis of glioma brain tumor is pretty much a death sentence. But these amazing experiments with genetically engineered neural stem cells may provide a highly precise way to kill glioblastoma cancer cells.

LOS ANGELES -- Researchers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center's Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute in Los Angeles have combined a special protein that targets cancer cells with neural stem cells (NSC) to track and attack malignant brain tumor cells. Results of their study appear in the Dec. 15 issue of Cancer Research.

Glioblastoma multiforme, or gliomas, are a particularly deadly type of brain tumor. They are highly invasive with poorly defined borders that intermingle with healthy brain tissue, making them nearly impossible to remove surgically without catastrophic consequences. Furthermore, cells separate from the main tumor and migrate to form satellites that escape treatment and often lead to recurrence.

Cedars-Sinai researchers recently published results of a study showing that neural stem cells have the ability to track glioma cells as they migrate. By engineering neural stem cells to secrete interleukin 12, they were able to elicit a local immune response that attacked cancer cells at the tumor site and in the satellites.

The current study used genetically engineered neural stem cells cells that have the potential to differentiate into any of several types of cells of the central nervous system to deliver a protein that is known for its cancer-fighting properties: tumor necrosis factor related apoptosis inducing ligand, or TRAIL. TRAIL has been shown to cause apoptosis, or cell death, in several types of cancers without causing toxicity to normal cells.

In vitro studies demonstrated that unmodified TRAIL cells quickly attacked human glioblastoma cells, with nearly all of the tumor cells being killed within 24 hours. TRAIL-secreting neural stem cells also resulted in significant cancer cell death, and the genetically engineered stem cells maintained their viability, strongly expressing TRAIL for as long as 10 days.

Similar results were found in vivo when human glioblastoma cells in mice were treated with TRAIL-secreting NSC and controls. A week after treatment, strong secretion of TRAIL was visible in the main tumor mass and in disseminating tumor pockets and satellites, indicating that the engineered cells were actively tracking tumor cells. The tumors treated with NSC-TRAIL had also decreased significantly in size, compared with the controls. Furthermore, while the treatment was dramatically effective in killing glioma cells, it was not toxic to normal brain tissue.

Note that the scientists were able to test human neural stem cells in a mouse model of the disease. The ability of human stem cells to live in mice allows the more rapid development of stem cell therapies for humans.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2002 December 16 10:04 AM  Biotech Therapies

Katy Sweeney said at November 21, 2003 8:36 PM:

My 12 year old nephew has just been diagonsoed. We are awaiting the results of the biopsy. He is being treated at Johns Hopkins --- is this the best place for him??

Is the prognosis truly as bleak as it sounds??

amy said at December 9, 2005 7:32 PM:

a friend had seizure tues. mri showed she has glioma, awaiting pathology to know grade of tumor. she was healthy, 27, 1 child, married. outlook seems bleak. where is best place for tx? live in alabama , but she can go anywhere.

ashley said at February 14, 2006 7:24 PM:

my brother in law was diagnosed withthe glioma in march 2005 we live in alabama and are currently getting treatment in UAB IN BIRMIMNGHAM, AL - great dctors by the way, / he has been thru chemo and radiation / and has been through so much, they put him on the highest dose of steroids possible which caused numerous problems, the y are still currently weaning him off b/c of the pyschosis that the huge doses of steroids have caused.
currently he is on glevak now and seems to have no imporvement he has lost all use of left side of his body as well as the abilty to walk. it is so heartbreaking to see this happen to someone you love and is even still so young. he has been fighting it but he is getting weary as fighting this has taken its toll on him and of course the rest of the family . he has experineced memory loss which was said to be caused by the medication, we still hope that s all that it is is the efects of the medications that he is on ... so if any one is out there reading this and you have any info please send it my directition, i would greatly appreciate it/

we are hoping for some ray of hope as he is only 27 years old any info on the condition would be much appreciated as well as all the prayers possible/ if any one , any where has a miracle cure or any additional info would be great he has lost all use of left side of his body as well as the abilty to walk.

thank you so much may God bless all of you

Becky said at March 29, 2008 2:17 AM:

My Mom, who is 81 and is or was in excellent shape (walking, water aerobics, looks 65, etc.) was on vacation in Fl. in Feb. 08. She walked 6 miles on the beach every day and on Monday and Tuesday (Feb.25 & 26) was perfectly normal. She got up on Weds. am and as usual, wrote some notes and journaled after her usual 6 mile walk and started losing function with her speech and writing. She immediated called my sister who lives there and mumbled that she thought she might be having a stroke. Long story long, she was diagnosed with GBM, which is why I, her one of seven children, is up at 3:30 a.m. trying to find out and as human nature has it, find something or hope, cure, whatever.

She had a biopsy and the Dr. (Melvin Field at Orlando Regional) took several tissue samples and pretty much, well 100%, knew it was GBM and was very direct, honest in explaining what it is, prognosis, etc. Of course, all seven of us were in shock, tears, etc., but we were told we would have to wait the usual 72 hrs. for the biopsy report which held a hope of 30% it wasn't GBM, but we knew it was.

I have spent countless hours trying to get a grip for my own reasons (and not just taking what the Dr.'s say.) She lives in Maryland and was fortunate enough to get into Johns Hopkins.

Here is what I have found: Having it under 45 years of age is better (but also, what is better??? It's terminal.. ) My Mom has it in the left lobe which effects her speach and motor skills. We were told that the left side is painless and the right side has more effects and pain.. I can't tell you how she looked and moaned and acted like a vegetable in the fetal position after the biopsy, which what at the time I thought the rest of her life would be like but the next morning she was sitting up, eating, etc., as time went on the anesthia, etc. wore off. She had a very hard time speaking even though she was sharp as a tack and knew what she wanted to say and got frustrated. She also lost (in the hospital) the use of her right hand and she is right handed. This all started on Feb. 27, 2008. It is now one month later. We got her home in Maryland. Quality of life and support is extremely important. She was put on Decadron and it is now amazing..She has full use of everything, drives, etc...But,,,her chemo (Temador) and radiation just started this week. I have read so much on this, consuming me, uh like now at 3:45 a.m. but to all, it's not a good thing. I have not found anything promising and just can't believe that people without some kind of treatment die in 3 months and most with treatment will maybe last a year and two is good. It's very, very hard to comprehend this when only 1 month ago my Mom was perfectly fine. The joke in the family is that she would outlive us all because she is in such good health, even getting down and doing 10 military push-ups. I can't even do one!!

I just will put every one on my prayer list. What I learned is that we all have ways of dealing..Believe me, 7 children around her and we all had strong opinions etc. and even lashed out at each other due to fatigue from spending all day in the hospital, not eating right, what to say to her and have to leave the room to cry, pull yourself together somehow for her.

I cannot stress enough the support system but for over a month, my Mom has had all 7 of us, as well as friends, etc. doting on her. She is on steriods which is why she can now speak normal and use her right hand but the Dr.'s made it very clear that since she is in such good shape she has to continue to walk, exercise, etc. or her muscles will atrophy, so now she is walking like, 4 times a day, doing push ups and lifting weights! She told me she just want's to be able to do the things she did before so now that at this time/week I have to respect her and let her do her thing. I even had to get "tough" with people who (out of the kindness of their heart) would dote on her so much and not let her do her own thing. I was (for some reason) the primary taker, giving the meds and checking her glucose (which the decadron causes) and finally said, "look, Mom, you have this thing in your head and you need learn this stuff and basically said "you are in the fight of your life, so get with it, stop being pessimistic (which is her nature) I put sticky notes on her mirrors, literally all over her room that said, "today is a good day, be positive, God loves you and so do we. There is no point in crying and worrying about tomorrow or next week when it isn't even here yet. F.E.A.R. = Future Events Appearing Real. The first instinct, at least what I saw in our family is that we just wanted to be there for her. Finally I said, geeze, she can walk and seems normal and hasn't had a moment to herself in a month, so give her her dignity of getting back to her normal life for now.

Sadly, this GBM is just a bad deal, it basically sucks but for me to find and learn about it and even post this so maybe someone might get something (like I did from all reading) puts it in to perspective and reality. Thanks to all and my prayers again and hang in there, it's O.K. to cry, get mad and even punch someone (just make sure they are O.K. with it!) I even forgot my own birthday which was March 27 with all this going on until I checked my mail on the 26th and got a card from my Mom......

Amanda said at December 10, 2008 10:53 AM:

My niece just turned six and was diagnosised with glioma brainstem tumor and was told there is nothing that can be done. Please some help us out

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