To me, science is a world of optimism. Researchers are constantly looking for cures for countless diseases, and with intelligence, a bit of luck, and grant funding their hard work rolls into results that may lead to new therapies. I always look forward to seeing how some of the most basic cell biology experiments can lead to something big, and I again fall in love with the whole process.
Medulloblastoma is the most common pediatric brain tumor, yet the treatments are highly toxic and are associated with high morbidity. A recent paper found that PIGF (placental growth factor) is expressed in most medulloblastomas, regardless of their subtype, and that high expression of the PIGF receptor Nrp1 is associated with poor survival of patients. Snuderl and colleagues then showed that growth and spread of medulloblastomas are dependent on PIGF and Nrp1, suggesting that PIGF and Nrp1 could serve as targets for future therapies for medulloblastoma. In the two-photon microscopy images above, the vasculature (green) of medulloblastomas (blue) was less dense in tumors treated with a PIGF-blocking antibody (bottom), compared with control (top) over time, during development. In the antibody-treated tissue, there was even some vessel regression (white arrows, bottom).
Snuderl, M., Batista, A., Kirkpatrick, N., Ruiz de Almodovar, C., Riedemann, L., Walsh, E., Anolik, R., Huang, Y., Martin, J., Kamoun, W., Knevels, E., Schmidt, T., Farrar, C., Vakoc, B., Mohan, N., Chung, E., Roberge, S., Peterson, T., Bais, C., Zhelyazkova, B., Yip, S., Hasselblatt, M., Rossig, C., Niemeyer, E., Ferrara, N., Klagsbrun, M., Duda, D., Fukumura, D., Xu, L., Carmeliet, P., & Jain, R. (2013). Targeting Placental Growth Factor/Neuropilin 1 Pathway Inhibits Growth and Spread of Medulloblastoma Cell, 152 (5), 1065-1076 DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2013.01.036
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