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The sleeping beauty among brain tumors

No. 66 | 10/12/2018 | by Mat

Scientists from the Hopp Children's Tumor Center Heidelberg (KiTZ), together with two other teams from the German Cancer Association (DKTK) and researchers from the UK, have shown that a group of inflammatory messengers slows down or even stops the growth of certain brain tumor cells. This molecular mechanism could be the key to new therapeutic approaches.
The "Hopp Children's Cancer Center Heidelberg" (KiTZ) is a joint institution of the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), Heidelberg University Hospital (UKHD) and Heidelberg University.

Pilocytic astrocytoma (PA) is a type of brain tumor common in childhood
© KiTZ

The pilocytic astrocytoma (PA) is a brain tumor that is common in childhood and classifies as a low-grade glioma. It grows slowly and can be treated in many cases, especially if it is possible to completely remove the tumor. A protective mechanism, called oncogene-induced senescence (OIS), stops or interferes with the proliferation of tumor cells. This mechanism is considered to be the cause of slow tumor growth in the PA. "Our studies in a cell-based model show that OIS in the pilocytic astrocytoma is regulated by a group of proteins, specifically inflammatory messengers," explains Juliane Buhl, KiTZ scientist and lead author of the publication, who now presents the research in Clinical Cancer Research, "Measuring these factors could help to better predict the progression of tumor growth in PA patients."

In addition, knowledge of this molecular mechanism opens up new therapeutic approaches. Till Milde, group leader at the KiTZ, DKTK scientist at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) and senior physician at Heidelberg University Hospital, explains: "Our discovery shows why many tumors are in a resting phase for a long time, in which they hardly respond to chemotherapy. However, we assume that we can specifically attack the cells with certain drugs called senolytics. Based on these results, we are currently reviewing the possibility of a clinical study with senolytics in pediatric PAs."

The research has been carried out at the "Everest Center for Research on Pediatric Low Grade Brain Tumors" located at the KiTZ and the University College of London, UK. The project is funded by the British "The Brain Tumor Charity" (https://www.thebraintumourcharity.org).

Original publication:
Buhl et al.: The senescence-associated secretory phenotype mediates oncogene-induced senescence in pediatric pilocytic astrocytoma. Clinical Cancer Research 2018. Published online on December 7, 2018
doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-18-1965. http://clincancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/early/2018/12/07/1078-0432.CCR-18-1965 

An image for this press release is available for download at: https://www.dkfz.de/de/presse/pressemitteilungen/2018/bilder/KiTZ-Patientin-Teddy-med.jpg 

Caption:
Pilocytic astrocytoma (PA) is a type of brain tumor common in childhood.

Note on use of images related to press releases
Use is free of charge. The German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ) permits one-time use in the context of reporting about the topic covered in the press release. Images have to be cited as follows: "Source: KiTZ".
Distribution of images to third parties is not permitted unless prior consent has been obtained from DKFZ's Press Office (phone: ++49-(0)6221 42 2854, E-mail: presse@dkfz.de). Any commercial use is prohibited.

The Hopp Children's Cancer Center Heidelberg (KiTZ)
The „Hopp Children's Cancer Center Heidelberg" (KiTZ) is a joint institution of the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), Heidelberg University Hospital and Heidelberg University. As the National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT), which focusses on adult oncology, the KiTZ is based on the US model of so-called "Comprehensive Cancer Centers" (CCC). As a therapy and research center for oncologic and hematologic diseases in children and adolescents, the KiTZ is committed to scientifically exploring the biology of childhood cancer and to closely linking promising research approaches with patient care– from diagnosis to treatment and aftercare. Children suffering from cancer, especially those with no established therapy options, are given an individual therapy plan in the KiTZ, which is created by interdisciplinary expert groups in so-called tumor boards. Many young patients can participate in clinical trials which ensures access to new therapy options. Thus, the KiTZ is a pioneering institution for transferring research knowledge from the laboratory to the clinic.
While the KiTZ focuses on pediatric oncology, the focus of the National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT), founded in 2004, is adult oncology. Both facilities in Heidelberg are based on the US model of so-called "Comprehensive Cancer Centers" (CCC).

The German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ)
The German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ) with its more than 3,000 employees is the largest biomedical research institute in Germany. At DKFZ, more than 1,000 scientists investigate how cancer develops, identify cancer risk factors and endeavor to find new strategies to prevent people from getting cancer. They develop novel approaches to make tumor diagnosis more precise and treatment of cancer patients more successful. The staff of the Cancer Information Service (KID) offers information about the widespread disease of cancer for patients, their families, and the general public. Jointly with Heidelberg University Hospital, DKFZ has established the National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT) Heidelberg, where promising approaches from cancer research are translated into the clinic. In the German Consortium for Translational Cancer Research (DKTK), one of six German Centers for Health Research, DKFZ maintains translational centers at seven university partnering sites. Combining excellent university hospitals with high-profile research at a Helmholtz Center is an important contribution to improving the chances of cancer patients. DKFZ is a member of the Helmholtz Association of National Research Centers, with ninety percent of its funding coming from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the remaining ten percent from the State of Baden-Württemberg.

Heidelberg University Hospital and Medical Faculty
Internationally recognized patient care, research, and teaching
Heidelberg University Hospital is one of the largest and most prestigious medical centers in Germany. The Medical Faculty of Heidelberg University belongs to the internationally most renowned biomedical research institutions in Europe. Both institutions have the common goal of developing new therapies and implementing them rapidly for patients. With about 13,000 employees, training and qualification is an important issue. Every year, around 65,000 patients are treated on an inpatient basis, 56,000 cases on a day patient basis and more than 1,000,000 cases on an outpatient basis in more than 50 clinics and departments with almost 2,000 beds. Jointly with the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) and German Cancer Aid, Heidelberg University Hospital has established the National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT) Heidelberg, where promising approaches from cancer research are translated into the clinic. Currently, about 3,700 future physicians are studying in Heidelberg; the reform Heidelberg Curriculum Medicinale (HeiCuMed) is one of the top medical training programs in Germany. http://www.klinikum.uni-heidelberg.de

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