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Mouse mimics childhood brain cancer

9 March 2011

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Category: Research & medical benefits

mice–mouse–test–tube.jpgScientists have created the first mouse model of a deadly form of childhood brain cancer.

The model will be used to further understanding of how the cancer forms and to test potential medicines. The position of the tumour, entwined inside the brain stem, makes DIPG a difficult cancer to study. No effective chemotherapy medicines exist and surgery is impossible as the cancer cells embed themselves in a region of the brain stem essential for life. Only one victim in 100 survives more than five years.

Researchers cultured cells from the human cancer and implanted them into the brains of healthy mice. These cancer cells went on to from DIPG-like tumours in the mice. This animal model of the disease can now be used to further understand how the cancer forms and for testing therapies.

Using the model, the researchers investigated a potential molecular signalling pathway, called the Hedgehog pathway, that could cause the cancer to grow. The Hedgehog pathway is already linked to several other types of brain tumour. Medicines that inhibit the Hedgehog pathway already exist. Researchers will now test these on the new DIPG cancer mouse model.

Read more about animals used in cancer research here.