Nature Outlook on Brain Cancer

24 October 2019 0 By Roberto Pugliese

Any type of cancer presents a risk to our lives but a brain tumor creates a huge threat to our survival. Despite great advances in treatments for many other tumors, a diagnosis of brain cancer still carries the high probability of dying within a few years or even a few months if it is for example a glioblastoma multiforme.

Efforts to help people survive longer this disease are advancing on several fronts. Researchers are learning more about genetic differences between brain tumors in order to develop more targeted therapies. It is known, for example, that brain tumors in children and adults, although they look similar, are actually very different.

Although familiarity seems to play a role, the factors that influence the possibility of developing brain cancer are still not clear. The latest results suggest that different health conditions – including allergies, diabetes and chickenpox – reduce the risk. To get information on a specific brain tumor without neurosurgery, researchers are modelling the disease both mathematically and creating brain organoids in the laboratory.

Cancer immunotherapy is beginning to show promising results in the treatment of brain tumors. Innovative therapies that use lasers or electric fields offer new hope. Researchers are also studying how to transport drugs through the blood-brain barrier. Some researchers think we will be more successful in dealing with brain cancer if attention is paid not only to tumor biology but also to neurological symptoms.

The issue of Nature Outlook dedicated to brain tumors gives an overview of the current state of research. We will summarize the most interesting articles of it in the coming days.