Stem cells modified to produce a cancer-killing immune chemical can track and destroy difficult-to-treat brain tumours, US researchers have found. They hope the work in mice could lead to new treatments for people with gliomas.
Standard glioma treatment involves surgery, followed by radiotherapy or chemotherapy. But tiny groups of glioma cells often spread deep into healthy brain tissue, so even if the main tumour is wiped out, the risk of recurrence of the cancer is high. Life expectancy after diagnosis is normally about one year.
A team led by John Yu at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles took neural stem cells from mice fetuses and genetically engineered them to produce interleukin 12. This is an immune stimulating chemical known to kill gliomas. The team then injected the modified stem cells into implanted gliomas in the brains of mice.