Researchers have discovered two gene variants that raise the risk of the pediatric cancer neuroblastoma. This is the first study to link known cancer-related genes HACE1 and LIN28B to neuroblastoma. The study broadens understanding of how gene changes may make a child susceptible to this early childhood cancer, as well as causing a tumor to progress.
U-M scientists stop abnormal brain cell growth in mice with neurofibromatosis using experimental tumor drug, make new discoveries in neural stem cells.
Neuroscience researchers show how astrocytes control the generation of new neurons in the brain. “In the brain, astrocytes control how many new neurons are formed from neural stem cells and survive to integrate into the existing neuronal networks. Astrocytes do this by secreting specific molecules but also by much less understood direct cell-cell interactions with stem cells”, says Prof. Milos Pekny.
A neuron’s fate was thought to be determined by the timing of its birth date. Neuroscientists recently showed that there is a distinct stem cell progenitor that gives rise to upper layer neurons, regardless of birth date or place.
Working with mice, Johns Hopkins researchers say they have figured out how stem cells found in a part of the brain responsible for learning, memory and mood regulation decide to remain dormant or create new brain cells. Apparently, the stem cells “listen in” on the chemical communication among nearby neurons to get an idea about what is stressing the system and when they need to act.
Planarian flatworms have come under intense study for their renowned ability to regenerate any missing body part, even as adults. But now they may take on a starring role as a model system for studying eye development and eye diseases in vertebrates, including humans.
Scientists knew that mutations in the FUS gene (Fused in Sarcoma) cause amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a disease of the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that control voluntary muscle movement. The researchers were successful in identifying mutations in this gene that cause Essential Tremor, and proved that the disease mechanisms for ET and ALS FUS mutations are different.
Researchers discovered a mutant form of Chk1 gene that when expressed in cancer cells, permanently stopped their proliferation and caused cell death without the addition of any chemotherapeutic drugs. This study illustrates an unprecedented finding, that artificially activating Chk1 alone is sufficient to kill cancer cells.
“We identified a subset of brain tumor cells that are slower growing or remain at rest, and appear to be the source of cancer recurrence after standard therapy in which the drug temozolomide is given to stop the tumor’s growth,” said Dr. Luis Parada. “Current therapy targets fast-growing tumor cells but not those responsible for new tumors. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first identification of a cancer stem-like cell in a spontaneously forming tumor inside a mammal.”
Research just published by scientists at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) links gene mutations found in some patients with Meier-Gorlin syndrome (MGS) with specific cellular dysfunctions that are thought to give rise to a particularly extreme version of dwarfism, small brain size, and other manifestations of abnormal growth which generally characterize that rare condition.