Two genes have been implicated in the development of a lethal brain tumour, highlighting potential targets for therapeutic development.
Glioblastomas are the most common and aggressive type of primary brain tumour. In Nature, Ronald DePinho and colleagues report that deleting two genes, p53 and Pten, from mouse brains causes the animals to develop glioblastoma-like tumours. Furthermore, they show that both genes are frequently inactivated in human glioblastomas.
It's thought that these tumours develop from rogue neural stem cells, so the team also looked at cultured mouse brain stem cells. Inactivating p53 and Pten kept the cells in an undifferentiated, stem-cell-like state, and they expressed high levels of the cancer-associated protein Myc. Together the studies implicate the combined actions of p53 and Pten in glioblastoma and highlight Myc as a possible target for future therapies.
Ronald DePinho (Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA)(C) Nature press release.
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