New animal model of breast-to-brain cancer spread allows testing of therapeutic stem cell approach
Investigators from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and the Harvard Stem Cell Institute have developed an imageable mouse model of brain-metastatic breast cancer and shown the potential of a stem-cell-based therapy to eliminate metastatic cells from the brain and prolong survival.
The study published online in the journal Brain also describes a strategy of preventing the potential negative consequences of stem cell therapy.
"Metastatic brain tumors - often from lung, breast or skin cancers - are the most commonly observed tumors within the brain and account for about 30 percent of advanced breast cancer metastases," says Khalid Shah, MS, PhD, director of the Molecular Neurotherapy and Imaging Laboratory in the MGH Departments of Radiology and Neurology, who led the study.
"Our results are the first to provide insight into ways of targeting brain metastases with stem-cell-directed molecules that specifically induce the death of tumor cells and then eliminating the therapeutic stem cells."
In their search for novel, tumor-specific therapies that could target multiple brain metastases without damaging adjacent tissues, the research team first developed a mouse model that more closely mimics what is seen in patients. They found that injecting into the carotid artery breast cancer cells that express markers allowing them to enter the brain - cells labelled with bioluminescent and fluorescent markers to enable tracking by imaging technologies - resulted in the formation of many metastatic tumors throughout the brain, mimicking what is seen in advanced breast cancer patients. Current therapeutic options for such patients are limited, particularly when there are many metastases.
To devise a potential new therapy, the investigators engineered a population of neural stem cells to express a potent version of a gene called TRAIL, which codes for a molecule that activates cell-death-inducing receptors found only on the surface of cancer cells. Previous research by Shah and his colleagues had shown that two types of stem cells are naturally attracted toward tumors in the brain.
After first verifying in their model that stem cells injected to the brain would travel to multiple metastatic sites and not to tumor-free areas, the team implanted TRAIL-expressing stem cells into the brains of metastasis-bearing mice, which reduced the growth of tumors. Injecting the TRAIL-expressing stem cells into the carotid artery, a likely strategy for clinical application, led to significantly slower tumor growth and increased survival, compared with animals receiving unaltered stem cells or control injections.
The safe use of a stem-cell-based therapy against brain metastasis would require preventing the engineered cells from persisting within the brain, where they could affect normal tissue and possibly give rise to new tumors. To facilitate removal of the therapeutic stem cells from the brain at the conclusion of therapy, the researchers created cells that, in addition to TRAIL, express a viral gene called HSV-TK, which renders them susceptible to the effects of the antiviral drug ganciclovir.
Several tests in cultured cells indicated that ganciclovir would cause the death of HSV-TK-expressing stem cells, and testing in the mouse model confirmed that administration of the drug after successful treatment of brain metastases successfully eliminated therapeutic stem cells that also expressed HSV-TK.
Shah and his team are currently developing similar animal models of brain metastasis from lung cancers and from melanoma. They also are working to improve understanding of the therapeutic efficacy of simultaneously targeting multiple tumor-specific molecules on the surface of metastatic cells within the brain and anticipate that their findings will make a major contribution towards developing novel targeted therapies for metastatic tumors in the brain.
In addition to Shah, who is an associate professor at Harvard Medical School and a principal faculty member at Harvard Stem Cell Institute, the authors of the Brain report are co-lead authors Wanlu Du, PhD, and Tugba Bagci-Onder, PhD, along with Jose-Luiz Figueiredo, MD, and Jordi Martinez-Quintanilla, PhD - all of the MGH Molecular Neurotherapy and Imaging Laboratory. The study was supported by National Institutes of Health grants CA138922 and NS071197 and a grant from the James McDonald Foundation.
Massachusetts General Hospital, founded in 1811, is the original and largest teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School. The MGH conducts the largest hospital-based research program in the United States, with an annual research budget of more than $760 million and major research centers in AIDS, cardiovascular research, cancer, computational and integrative biology, cutaneous biology, human genetics, medical imaging, neurodegenerative disorders, regenerative medicine, reproductive biology, systems biology, transplantation biology and photomedicine.
Katie Marquedant | EurekAlert!
Colorectal cancer risk factors decrypted
13.07.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Stoffwechselforschung
Algae Have Land Genes
13.07.2018 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg
For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.
To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...
For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.
Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...
Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.
A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...
Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.
"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....
Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.
Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...
13.07.2018 | Event News
12.07.2018 | Event News
03.07.2018 | Event News
13.07.2018 | Event News
13.07.2018 | Materials Sciences
13.07.2018 | Life Sciences