Brain tumors fly under the radar like stealth jets, new U-M research suggests

Brain tumors fly under the radar of the body’s defense forces by coating their cells with extra amounts of a specific protein, new research shows. 

Like a stealth fighter jet, the coating means the cells evade detection by the early-warning immune system that should detect and kill them. The stealth approach lets the tumors hide until it’s too late for the body to defeat them. 

The findings, made in mice and rats, show the key role of a protein called galectin-1 in some of the most dangerous brain tumors, called high grade malignant gliomas.

In mice whose brain tumor cells (in green) couldn’t make galectin-1, the body’s immune system was able to recognize and attack the cells, causing them to die. In this microscope image, the orange areas show where tumor cells had died in just the first three days after the tumor was implanted in the brain. Six days later, the tumor had been eradicated.

 

 

A research team from the University of Michigan Medical School made the discovery and has published it online in the journal Cancer Research.

Click here to read the entire article published by the University of Michigan Health System.

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