Mario Suvà, Esther Rheinbay, Shawn Gillespie, and Anoop Patel from this lab and colleagues have discovered a set of key transcription factors underlying glioblastoma stem-like cells.
From the Broad blog:
Glioblastoma, the most common and most aggressive form of brain cancer in adults, remains effectively incurable. Evidence suggests that “stem-like” cells help drive this difficult-to-treat disease. These cells may possess properties that give them the ability to resist treatment and drive cancer’s growth, but pinpointing them and understanding the circuitry that makes them behave the way they do has been a major challenge.
Now, through the lens of epigenomics, researchers are gaining a clearer picture of the core set of switches that can turn a cancer cell into an aggressive glioblastoma stem cell capable of driving a tumor’s growth. Instead of focusing on genetics, the research team has found that by flipping epigenetic switches that alter gene activity, they can control a tumor cell’s aggressive behavior by making it regress into a stem-cell-like state.
“The code is fairly simple,” says Mario Suvà, a Broad associated scientist and a faculty member at Massachusetts General Hospital. “It’s a difference of four transcription factors: that’s all it takes to switch from a non-aggressive brain tumor cell to a very aggressive brain tumor cell.”
Read the full paper in Cell: Suvà M et al. “Reconstructing and reprogramming the tumor propagating potential of glioblastoma stem-like cells.” Cell April 10, 2014. DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2014.02.030.