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Vital Signs: The Cellular Switch – A New Weapon Against The Worst Of Brain Tumors


It’s the most aggressive and rapid growing form of brain tumors. But researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have identified a protein called RIP 1  that may slow down glioblastomas.

Dr. Amyn Habib, an Associate Professor of Neurology and Neurotherapeutics, is senior author of the study in Cell Reports. In this installment of KERA’s Vital Signs, he explains how the protein works.

Three Things To Know About Glioblastomas:

What are gioblastomas? The American Brain Tumor Association definesglioblastomas as tumors arising from astrocytes – star-shaped cells that make up the “glue-like,” or supportive tissue of the brain. These tumors are usually highly malignant (cancerous) because the cells reproduce quickly and are supported by a large network of blood vessels. However, glioblastomas rarely spreads elsewhere in the body. There is no known cause.

Symptoms. The most common symptoms are usually caused by increased pressure in the brain. They can include headache, nausea, vomiting, and drowsiness. Depending on the location of the tumor, patients can develop a variety of other symptoms such as weakness on one side of the body, memory and/or speech difficulties, and visual changes.

Treatment. The first step in treating glioblastoma is a procedure to make a diagnosis, relieve pressure on the brain, and safely remove as much tumor as possible through surgery. Radiation and chemotherapy may be used to slow the growth of tumors that cannot be removed with surgery. Chemotherapy may also be used to delay the need for radiation in young children. But Dr. Amyn Habib says treatment currently extends survival only a few months. Glioblastomas are largely incurable.

– The American Brain Tumor Association

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