Researchers have identified a gene that may be involved in the development of certain aggressive brain tumours.
Gliomas are the most common type of brain tumour. Around 1,500 new cases are diagnosed every year in the United States. Most will die within the following year. The growth of the tumour and its blood supply may be regulated by the potential tumour-suppressor gene ING4, report Igor Garkavtsev and colleagues in the 18 March 2004 issue of Nature (Vol. 428, No. 6980, pp.328-332). Human glioma tissue contains less ING4 than does normal control tissue, and the extent of the reduction correlates with the progression from lower to higher grades of tumours.
The suggestion is backed up by animal studies. In mice, grafted brain tumours with low levels of ING4 grow faster than control tumours. Importantly, they also have more vasculature owing to the overproduction of a molecule called interleukin-1, which is normally kept in check by ING4. Intervention with this or other pathways controlled by ING4 may have therapeutic potential.
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