Saturday May 25, 2019

Researchers Discover Enzyme Inhibitor To Treat Deadly Brain Tumours in Kids

Histone is a protein that acts like a spool for DNA, helping to package the six-feet long DNA strand into the tiny nucleus of every cell

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MRI
Brain tumours can be confused with harmless bright spots, it has never been clear whether finding these abnormalities via MRI should be a cause for concern. Wikimedia Commons

Researchers have identified an enzyme inhibitor that may help fight the most deadly brain tumour in children.

The study, published in the journal Nature Communications, suggests that an inhibitor of ACVR1 enzyme slows tumour growth and increases survival in an animal model of diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) — the most deadly brain tumour in children.

According to the researchers, currently, there are no approved drugs for treating DIPG.

“Our results are encouraging and suggest that it might be reasonable to test an inhibitor of this enzyme in a clinical trial,” said senior author Oren Becher, Associate Professor at Northwestern University in the US.

“Prior to that, we need to evaluate different ACVR1 inhibitors in animal models to make sure we bring the most safe and effective agent to trials with children,” Becher added.

Representation of a Brain Tumour. Flickr
Representation of a Brain Tumor. Flickr

In 2014, Becher’s lab co-discovered that ACVR1 mutations are found in approximately 25 per cent of DIPGs, leading the enzyme to be overactive.

In this study, the team demonstrated for the first time in an animal model that this enzyme mutation cooperates with a histone mutation (H3.1 K27M) found in 20 per cent of DIPGs. Together, these mutations are important in initiating tumour development.

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Histone is a protein that acts like a spool for DNA, helping to package the six-feet long DNA strand into the tiny nucleus of every cell.

“Our future work will examine why and how the ACVR1 and histone mutations work together to trigger DIPG development,” Becher noted. (IANS)

Next Story

Air Pollution Raises Anxiety, Depression Risks in Kids, Says Study

Among those exposed to higher levels of traffic-related air pollution, there were significant increases of myo-inositol in brain compared with those with lower pollution exposure

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rahul gandhi, environment
A recent report had said that 22 of the world's 30 worst cities for air pollution are in India, with Delhi again ranking as the world's most polluted capital. VOA

A new evidence suggests air pollution is not just associated with asthma and respiratory diseases, but may also impact metabolic and neurological development of children, putting them at an increased risk of anxiety and depression, says a study.

“Recent evidence suggests the central nervous system is particularly vulnerable to air pollution, suggesting a role in etiology of mental disorders, like anxiety or depression,” said study lead author Kelly Brunst, Assistant Professor at the University of Cincinnati in the US.

“This is the first study to use neuro-imaging to evaluate exposure to traffic-related air pollution, metabolite dysregulation in brain and generalised anxiety symptoms among otherwise healthy children,” Brunst said.

For the study, published in the journal Environmental Research, the researchers evaluated imaging of 145 children at an average age of 12 years, looking specifically at levels of myo-inositol in brain through a specialised MRI technique, magnetic resonance spectroscopy.

India, air pollution, WHO, diwali, Pollution, Delhi, egypt, air quality
A bird flies past the Humayun’s Tomb shrouded in smog in New Delhi, India. VOA

Myo-inositol is a naturally-occurring metabolite, mainly found in specialised brain cells known as glial cells, which assists in maintaining cell volume and fluid balance in brain and serves as a regulator for hormones and insulin in the body. Rise in myo-inositol levels correlate with increased population of glial cells, which often occurs in states of inflammation.

Among those exposed to higher levels of traffic-related air pollution, there were significant increases of myo-inositol in brain compared with those with lower pollution exposure, researchers said.

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They also observed rise in myo-inositol to be associated with more generalised anxiety symptoms. “In the higher, recent exposure group, we saw a 12 per cent increase in anxiety symptoms,” said Brunst.

Brunst, however, noted that the observed increase in reported generalised anxiety symptoms in this cohort of typically developing children was relatively small and were not likely to result in a clinical diagnosis of an anxiety disorder. (IANS)