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Discovery raises hope of slowing high-grade brain tumour growth

Researchers have identified a difference between low-grade and high-grade brain tumours that could help develop better treatments for more aggressive forms of the disease.

Researchers have identified a difference between low-grade and high-grade brain tumours that could help develop better treatments for more aggressive forms of the disease.

A team at University College London, co-funded by us and led by Professor Sebastian Brandner, found that high-grade gliomas contain higher levels of a biomarker called miR-449.

A biomarker can be either a genetic change in cancer cells or a molecule produced by the tumour.

miR-449 is a type of small molecule that governs the production of proteins needed for cells to grow and divide.

Professor Brandner's study found that when miR levels in high-grade brain tumours were reduced, the characteristics of the tumour became more like those of low-grade brain tumours.

This means that measuring the levels of miR-449 in a tumour may help predict survival and allow healthcare professions tailor treatments more specifically to individual patients.

The researchers are now working towards extending the study, to see if they can slow the growth of high-grade tumours with drugs that reduce levels of miR-449.

Professor Brandner said: “Through our research we have identified molecules that clearly distinguish high-grade from low-grade gliomas. An important finding of our study is the possibility that these molecules have the potential to be used as a therapeutic target."

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