Congratulations to Dr. Monje-Deisseroth and her team, including lead researcher postdoctoral scholar Humsa Venkatesh, PhD

Dr. Monje-Deisseroth and her team at Stanford University recently published a paper detailing how gliomas are able to “hijack” the brain’s communication system. The brain has two main groups of cells, glial cells and neurons. Neurons communicate electrochemically across synapses. Glia cells have varying functions but these are the types of cells that turn into gliomas. Monje and team were able to show that this “hacking” done by gliomas allows synaptic connections to be formed between healthy neurons in the rest of the brain. It was further shown that synaptic activity regulates glioma progression. This makes modulating these neuron-glioma connections a potential new therapeutic target for gliomas. The impactful study has been widely featured in medical and research publications across the globe

“My first reaction was, ‘How horrible, it’s actually integrating into the brain,'” said pediatric neuro-oncologist Michelle Monje, MD, PhD, the senior author of the new paper. “I also thought, ‘OK, it makes sense that this type of tumor has been so hard to treat. We have to approach this disease in a very different way; it really is a disease of neuroscience, and we need to understand the electrochemical biology.'”

“One of the most lethal aspects of high-grade gliomas is that the cancer cells diffusely invade normal brain tissue so that the tumor and the healthy brain tissue are knitted together,” said senior author Michelle Monje, MD, Ph.D., associate professor of neurology and neurological sciences. The discovery helps explain why gliomas are so intractable, she added. “This is such an insidious group of tumors. They’re actually integrating into the brain.”

Include below are links to 4 articles on the recent publication. They are included to help better understand the study and it’s impact on research for those interested in more details.  

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-02792-1

https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2019/09/18/761916153/deadly-brain-cancers-act-like-vampires-by-hijacking-normal-cells-to-grow

https://medicalxpress.com/news/2019-09-brain-tumors-synapses-healthy-neurons.html

https://scopeblog.stanford.edu/2019/09/18/brain-tumors-make-electrical-connections-to-healthy-neurons-stanford-study-finds/?sf109151516=1

 

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