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Study Suggests Capitalizing on the Glioblastoma Tropism of Mesenchymal Stem Cells for the Targeted Treatment of Brain Cancer

By BiotechDaily International staff writers
Posted on 25 Mar 2013
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Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) obtained from adipose tissue migrate to sites of injury in the body and potentially may be developed into a delivery system for anticancer drugs targeted at glioblastoma cells remaining after surgical removal of a primary tumor.

In a proof-of-principle study investigators at Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, MD, USA) compared the cancer cell tropism of MSCs from adipose tissue to that of MSCs from bone marrow. The rationale behind the study was that since MSCs from adipose tissue are more abundant and more easily obtained than those from bone marrow are, a similar degree of glioblastoma tropism would encourage further research into the possible use of adipose tissue MSCs.

The investigators established cultures of MSCs from adipose tissue (AMSCs) and characterized them for cell surface markers of mesenchymal stem cell origin in conjunction with the potential for differentiation into fat, bone, and cartilage. Validated AMSCs produced at Johns Hopkins were then compared to commercially obtained human bone marrow MSCs (BMSCs) and AMSCs for growth responsiveness and glioma tropism in response to glioma conditioned media obtained from primary gliomaneurosphere cultures.

Results published in the March 12, 2013, online edition of the journal PLOS ONE revealed that commercial and primary culture AMSCs and commercial BMSCs demonstrated no statistically significant difference in their migration towards glioma conditioned media in vitro. There was statistically significant difference in the proliferation rate of both commercial AMSCs and BMSCs as compared to primary culture AMSCs, suggesting primary cultures have a slower growth rate than commercially available cell lines.


"The biggest challenge in brain cancer is the migration of cancer cells. Even when we remove the tumor, some of the cells have already slipped away and are causing damage somewhere else," said senior author Dr. Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa, professor of neurosurgery, oncology, and neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University. "Building off our findings, we may be able to find a way to arm a patient's own healthy cells with the treatment needed to chase down those cancer cells and destroy them. It is truly personalized medicine."

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