Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Study identifying cell of origin for large, disfiguring nerve tumors lays groundwork for development

12.11.2014

UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers have determined the specific type of cell that gives rise to large, disfiguring tumors called plexiform neurofibromas, a finding that could lead to new therapies for preventing growth of these tumors.

"This advance provides new insight into the steps that lead to tumor development and suggests ways to develop therapies to prevent neurofibroma formation where none exist today," said Dr. Lu Le, Assistant Professor of Dermatology at UT Southwestern and senior author of the study, published online and in Cancer Cell.


Using this multihead microscope to study large, disfiguring tumors called plexiform neurofibromas, UT Southwestern's Dr. Lu Le, left, and postdoctoral researcher Dr. Zhiguo Chen determined the cell of origin for these tumors, a finding that may assist in developing new therapies.

Credit: UT Southwestern

Plexiform neurofibromas, which are complex tumors that form around nerves, occur in patients with a genetic disorder called neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1), which affects 1 in 3,500 people. About 30 percent of NF1 patients develop this type of tumor, which is typically benign.

NF1 patients with plexiform neurofibromas, however, have a 10 percent lifetime risk of the tumors developing into malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors (MPNSTs), a deadly, incurable type of soft-tissue cancer. In addition, due to their unusual capacity for growth, plexiform neurofibromas can be life-threatening by their physical impairment of vital organs or neural function.

While there are no currently approved therapies for either MPNSTs or plexiform neurofibromas, Dr. Le said determining the cell type and location from which these tumors originate is an important step toward discovering new drugs that inhibit tumor development.

"If we can isolate and grow the cells of origin for neurofibromas, then we can reconstruct the biological steps that lead these original cells to tumor stage," said Dr. Le, a member of the Harold C. Simmons Cancer Center. "Once we know the critical steps in the process, then we can design inhibitors to block each step in an effort to prevent or slow tumor formation."

Using a process called genetic labeling for cell fate tracing, researchers determined that plexiform neurofibromas originate from Schwann cell precursors in embryonic nerve roots.

"This study addresses a fundamental question in the neurofibromatosis field," Dr. Le said. "It points to the importance of stem cells and their immediate progenitors in the initiation of tumors, consistent with the notion that these neoplasms originate in a subset of primitive precursors and that most cells in an organ do not generate tumors."

In a related study published last year, Dr. Le's research team found that inhibiting the action of a protein called BRD4 caused tumors to shrink in a mouse model of MPNST. UT Southwestern is working with a pharmaceutical company to bring a BRD4-inhibiting drug into clinical trials for MPNST patients.

New drugs are desperately needed to treat both MPNST and plexiform neurofibromas, said Dr. Le, who also serves as co-director of UT Southwestern's Comprehensive Neurofibromatosis Clinic. The clinic, co-directed by Dr. Laura Klesse, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and a Dedman Family Scholar in Clinical Care, is part of the Harold C. Simmons Cancer Center and serves patients with all types of hereditary neurofibromatosis.

Other UT Southwestern researchers involved in the Cancer Cell study, all in Dermatology, were first author and postdoctoral researcher Dr. Zhiguo Chen; postdoctoral researchers Drs. Amish Patel and Chung-Ping Liao; and research associate Yong Wang.

The study was funded by UT Southwestern's Disease-Oriented Clinical Scholars Program, the Elisabeth Reed Wagner Fund for Research and Clinical Care in Neurofibromatosis and Cardiothoracic Surgery, the National Cancer Institute, the Children's Tumor Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Defense.

UT Southwestern's Harold C. Simmons Cancer Center is the only National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center in North Texas and one of just 66 NCI-designated cancer centers in the nation. The Harold C. Simmons Cancer Center includes 13 major cancer care programs with a focus on treating the whole patient with innovative treatments, while fostering groundbreaking basic research that has the potential to improve patient care and prevention of cancer worldwide. In addition, the Center's education and training programs support and develop the next generation of cancer researchers and clinicians.

About UT Southwestern Medical Center

UT Southwestern, one of the premier academic medical centers in the nation, integrates pioneering biomedical research with exceptional clinical care and education. The institution's faculty includes many distinguished members, including six who have been awarded Nobel Prizes since 1985. Numbering approximately 2,800, the faculty is responsible for groundbreaking medical advances and is committed to translating science-driven research quickly to new clinical treatments. UT Southwestern physicians provide medical care in 40 specialties to about 92,000 hospitalized patients and oversee approximately 2.1 million outpatient visits a year.

Debbie Bolles | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.utsouthwestern.edu/

Further reports about: CANCER Cancer Cell NF1 neurofibromas neurofibromatosis treatments tumor development tumors

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht UNH researchers create a more effective hydrogel for healing wounds
21.11.2018 | University of New Hampshire

nachricht Removing toxic mercury from contaminated water
21.11.2018 | Chalmers University of Technology

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: First diode for magnetic fields

Innsbruck quantum physicists have constructed a diode for magnetic fields and then tested it in the laboratory. The device, developed by the research groups led by the theorist Oriol Romero-Isart and the experimental physicist Gerhard Kirchmair, could open up a number of new applications.

Electric diodes are essential electronic components that conduct electricity in one direction but prevent conduction in the opposite one. They are found at the...

Im Focus: Nonstop Tranport of Cargo in Nanomachines

Max Planck researchers revel the nano-structure of molecular trains and the reason for smooth transport in cellular antennas.

Moving around, sensing the extracellular environment, and signaling to other cells are important for a cell to function properly. Responsible for those tasks...

Im Focus: UNH scientists help provide first-ever views of elusive energy explosion

Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.

Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...

Im Focus: A Chip with Blood Vessels

Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.

Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Optical Coherence Tomography: German-Japanese Research Alliance hosted Medical Imaging Conference

19.11.2018 | Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Removing toxic mercury from contaminated water

21.11.2018 | Life Sciences

New China and US studies back use of pulse oximeters for assessing blood pressure

21.11.2018 | Medical Engineering

Exoplanet stepping stones

21.11.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>