Cancer Treatment

Breaking down a barrier to tumor therapy

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Science  29 Apr 2016:
Vol. 352, Issue 6285, pp. 547-548
DOI: 10.1126/science.352.6285.547-b

Medulloblastoma is a childhood brain tumor whose response to chemotherapy varies dramatically depending on the tumor's genomic profile. So-called “WNT-medulloblastomas” are curable, but “SHH-medulloblastomas” are more refractory to treatment. Studying mouse models, Phoenix et al. find that differences in tumor vasculature integrity, a property controlled by the tumor, regulate differences in chemosensitivity. WNT-medulloblastomas secrete molecules that antagonize the WNT signaling pathway in endothelial cells, which results in leaky vessels and better diffusion of chemotherapeutic drugs into the tumor. In contrast, SHH-medulloblastomas display an intact blood-brain barrier, which is relatively impermeable by therapeutics. Treatment of SHH-medulloblastomas with WNT inhibitors could potentially enhance their response to chemotherapy.

Cancer Cell 29, 508 (2016).

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