Don’t think or else… you die. If you have a deadly brain tumor that is. If brain tumor is a fire, then thinking is a fuel to make it burning and spreading. A new study, Brain tumor growth stimulated by nerve activity in the cortex, from Stanford University School of Medicine, proves it.
Recently published in the journal Cell, the research found that nerve activity in the cerebral cortex — simply put, thinking — promotes the growth brain tumors. Conducted in mice with an aggressive human brain cancer implanted in their brains, the study is the first to demonstrate the above finding.
“Clinically, fighting high-grade gliomas is a lot like trying to fight a forest fire,” said Monje, who is also “Our new findings indicate that this metaphorical forest fire has been difficult to extinguish because there is something akin to gasoline seeping up from the soil.” (–Michelle Monje, MD, PhD, senior author of the study, assistant professor of neurology at the School of Medicine and a pediatric neuro-oncologist at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford, where she cares for patients with these tumors.)
MRI of the tumor (top) and glioma cells growing in a lab dish (bottom).
Then, if even the most basic patterns of neuronal activity promoted tumor growth, to fight it one should stop thinking?
“Blocking or silencing neuronal activity, such as would occur in a medically-induced coma, is not a good therapeutic option,” Dr Monje said. She believes that the answer isn’t reducing brain activity. Rather, it’s targeting the specific ways that neuronal activity promotes glioma growth.