Halting tumor growth

Cutting off their supply of a particular signaling protein could stop some brain tumors from growing, say School of Medicine researchers. 

The protein, neuroligin-3, helps healthy brains function. But the researchers showed in 2015 that the molecule also helps fuel the growth of certain aggressive brain tumors in mice.

The new research went further, showing that cancer cells from any form of these tumors, a particularly deadly group called high-grade gliomas, could not multiply when they were implanted into the brains of mice that were genetically engineered to lack neuroligin-3.

The research, published online Sept. 20 in Nature, could lead to new options for treating patients, says senior author Michelle Monje, MD, PhD, assistant professor of neurology, who notes that researchers are working toward a clinical trial.

“We have a really clear path forward for therapy,” she says. “Any measurable extension of life and improvement of quality of life is a real win for these patients.”