A study in mice indicates that invading glioblastoma cells hijack cerebral blood vessels during early stages of progression of the disease and damage the brain’s protective barrier. It is a finding that may open new ways to plot the death of the tumor with therapies that reach these deadly cells at an earlier stage than was previously thought possible. Glioblastoma, one of the most devastating forms of cancer, spreads quickly and difficult to treat because the brain protects itself from foreign substances.
The blood-brain barrier (BBB) is designed to stand in the way of harmful materials leaking into the brain and to regulate the transport of important molecules back and forth between the brain and the blood.
Evidence from the models created by the scientists suggest that early in the disease, invading tumor cells are not fully protected by the blood-brain barrier and, therefore, more vulnerable to drugs delivered to the brain via the blood. If these findings hold true in humans, treatment with anti-invasive agents might be beneficial in newly diagnosed glioblastoma patients.