Glioblastoma brain tumour cells steal from healthy nerve cell neighbours to fuel their growth
Glioblastoma is the most dangerous type of brain tumour. Most people survive just one year after diagnosis and frustratingly little progress has been made in improving these grim odds. The disease also affects brain function, causing problems that can have a major impact on patients’ lives. Using fruit flies as a stand-in for human patients, researchers are taking a closer look at the interactions between cancer cells and healthy nerve cells in the brain. The top panels show the brain of a healthy fruit fly maggot, with healthy nerve cells highlighted in grey or green, while the bottom row comes from insects with glioblastoma (red). It turns out that the cancer cells are ‘vampirising’ their neighbours, stealing chemical signals that fuel their growth and destroy healthy nerve cell function. This new discovery helps to explain how these tumours cause problems in the brain and why they’re so difficult to treat.
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.