Oakland University
Friday, August 5, 2011

Brain Cancer Stem Cells

Brain cancer and stem cells are two hot topics in biomedical research. Distinguished Professor Michael Chopp, of the Department of Physics, recently published a paper that bridges these two areas of study. “Effect of doublecortin on self-renewal and differentiation in brain tumor stem cells” appeared in the July 2011 issue of Cancer Science (Volume 102, Pages 1350-1357). Tumor cells and stem cells share the property that they can renew and proliferate. Brain tumor stem cells are therefore a problem, because they can be the underlying driver of tumor growth. If you can cause the stem cells to differentiate (change into a more permanent type of cell, like a neuron), they lose their proliferative ability.

Doublecortin is a protein expressed by developing neurons in the brain, and is a marker indicating the formation of new neurons. One of the paper’s hypotheses is that doublecortin triggers the differentiation of brain tumor stem cells, and therefore inhibits their self-renewal. It therefore favors brain cancer patient survival. The paper by Chopp’s group examines the detailed mechanism by which doublecortin works. Their results imply that recombinant doublecortin (a type of gene therapy) may have the potential to be a useful treatment for brain cancer.

Coauthors on this study include a team of researchers at Henry Ford Hospital, including Ben Buller, a 2010 graduate of OU’s Biomedical Sciences: Medical Physics PhD program and winner of this year’s Oakland University Outstanding Dissertation Award.
New research by Distinguished Professor Michael Chopp suggests that targeting brain cancer stem cells may be a way to treat brain tumors.

Created by Brad Roth (roth@oakland.edu) on Friday, August 5, 2011
Modified by Brad Roth (roth@oakland.edu) on Friday, August 5, 2011
Article Start Date: Friday, August 5, 2011