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The Plasticity of Glioblastoma Multiforme

As in most situations, scientists often believe that because of a, b happened which then lead to c. Because this these hydrogens attached to oxygen, we got water or since a certain lizard needed to better blend into its environment, they have evolved to have a particular shade of green skin. Researchers thought the same about cancer cells, specifically those of glioblastomas, until recently. 

Glioblastomas are fast growing malignant brain tumors that can cause a variety of neurological symptoms like speech difficulty, seizures and visual field loss as the tumor grows. According to new research, the cancer cells of glioblastomas are more plastic than originally thought, shedding light as to how these tumors continue to grow so rapidly, even when treated.

Scientists are finding that the cells are not “fixed in a hierarchical order” (Luxembourg Institute of Health, 2019), meaning they do not necessarily follow a predetermined path. In other words, the cancer cells learn to survive and thrive, even when being starved of oxygen or treated with medications.

This finding can help physicians understand why certain treatments may not work with some patients and, perhaps more importantly, how to treat these cancer cells in a way that take their plasticity into effect. Knowing that these cells can adapt to survive many different treatments, researchers can study the cells to learn what drugs they can overcome and which ones they cannot.

The diagnosis of glioblastomas is a very serious one, often with life expectancies of only a few months to a few years after diagnosis, but this discovery of how the cells adapt can potentially change that in the future. By understanding that these cells do not need a or b to get to c, scientists can start discovering how to outsmart this brain cancer.

Luxembourg Institute of Health. (2019, May 24). Cancer cells are quick-change artists adapting to their environment: Inherent cancer stem cell plasticity uncovered. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 27, 2019 from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/05/190524113534.htm

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