Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Counter Communication

Fruit fly model shows connections between glioblastoma cells and with neurons underly progression of the brain cancer

09 October 2022

Counter Communication

When a phone scammer calls you, their goal is to keep you talking, as that flow of communication gives them a chance to weasel in and trick you. Exploiting communication is also how incurable brain tumours called glioblastomas spread so fast, forming direct links, synapses, with our neurons (brain cells). Researchers hunting for new treatments investigated these synapses in more detail, and asked whether genetic tweaks to subdue their activity might slow tumour growth. Synapses are tiny gaps between cells, across which chemical messages pass in small packages. The study showed increased accumulation of this message material (green) in the brains of fruit flies with glioblastoma (right) compared to normal flies (left), but that down-regulating activity on either side of the synapse slowed tumour growth. Synaptic connections both between glioblastoma cells and joining them with neurons are key to the cancer development, and could be targets for future treatments.

Written by Anthony Lewis

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