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Brain Tumour Awareness Month Undividing Attention

Senescent malignant cells in tumours promote the progression of glioblastoma brain tumours

15 March 2023

Undividing Attention

Since cancers arise when cells divide uncontrollably, you might think the one part of a tumour we don’t need to worry about is a group of cells that aren’t dividing. But recent research has suggested that these ‘senescent’ cells might be important to cancer development and a potential target for treatments. Researchers investigated senescent cells in glioblastomas – deadly brain tumours – in mice and human samples (extracted mouse glioblastoma cells pictured on an artificial matrix for growth and experimentation). Senescent cells make up less than 7% of the tumours, but removal of them resulted in improved survival of mice. With further experiments they identified a key protein, NRF2, coordinating senescence and found similar gene expression in these cells in mouse and human tumours. Cancers with a higher proportion of senescent cells are associated with shorter survival times, and new approaches targeting senescence could supplement existing treatments, improving the prognosis for patients.

March is Brain Tumour Awareness Month

Written by Anthony Lewis

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