Ask the Expert: New Science and Brain Tumours

 Are there new scientific discoveries leading to the treatment or diagnosis of brain tumours?

It’s a question that impacts everyone affected by brain tumour research: clinicians, scientists and, of course, patients and their loved ones.  

Several molecules have been linked to brain tumour development and have been targeted using drug treatments with moderate success. Interestingly, a new class of molecules, microRNAs (miRNAs), has attracted the attention of scientists as promising avenues for brain tumour diagnosis and treatment.
 
These molecules are found in several species including humans and are key controllers of how gene products are ultimately transformed into proteins. This crucial role places miRNAs at the crossroads of several biochemical processes, such as those that can lead to uncontrolled cell growth, the basis of malignant tumours. With such a weight on their shoulders, it is easy to see how altering miRNA expression could have harmful effects in an individual. While it’s been said that these molecules play a role in some diseases, including cancer, it’s important to remember that the exact functions of each miRNA have not yet been identified.
 
So how does this lead to brain tumour research?
 
Several theories are being explored by scientists, in the quest to better understand the roles miRNAs play in brain tumour diagnosis and treatment. Some researchers are assessing miRNAs’ involvement in tumour development and progression by identifying which of these types of molecule are abnormally produced in brain tumours. Another important area of research involves linking miRNA expression with cancerous cell behaviours or how they respond to certain therapeutic treatments.
In the end, the take-home message is that science is digging deeper to improve understanding of the molecular roots that drive brain tumours. Much remains to be discovered and researched. But despite the fact that miRNA research is in its early stages, it has generated very promising leads that raise hopes of identifying factors that cause brain tumours and their respective treatment options.     

About the Author
Pier Jr. Morin is an assistant professor of biochemistry at the University of Moncton and holds an MBA degree from the University of Western Ontario's Richard Ivey School of Business in London, Ontario. His laboratory focuses on characterizing selected members of a family of proteins called kinases and on understanding their involvement in the development of glioblastoma multiforme, an aggressive type of brain tumour.  Dr. Morin is one of nine 2011 Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada Research Grant recipients and his research will help to understand the impact of a specific type of protein expression and function as it relates to glioblastoma multiforme brain tumours. You can read more about Dr. Morin’s project here.

 

Download a PDF of this article

Return to all Information Sheets

Share This

Featured Story

Kate's Mum's Story

"May 2006 is a month I will never forget. That was the moment that everything became before the cancer, and after the cancer. It was a mark in time that would forever change my family"... Read more about Kate's Mum's story from her diagnosis of glioblastoma in 2006 and how Mum has beaten the odds to still be here today.

Learn more

Spotlight

Roy and the Gamma Knife – A Happy Tale

I had headaches, almost daily, for 10 years or more. It was a rare day if I did not have a headache. I used to joke that I should own...

Learn more

Courtney’s Story of Stability

Stability. It’s a strange concept when you have what it known to be a progressive, life long illness. You hear the words, “Your tumour...

Learn more

Upcoming Events

  • 24/Jul/2018: Groupe de soutien virtuel: Un groupe de soutien virtuel pour personnes touchées par une tumeur... Learn more >
  • 25/Jul/2018: Toronto Support Group: Meets at Wellspring Westerkirk House at Sunnybrook, Toronto, ON... Learn more >
  • 29/Jul/2018: 11th Annual Black Diamond Car Show Presented by Thumbs Up: Black Diamond, AB... Learn more >
  • 02/Aug/2018: Ajax Support Group: Meets at St. Paul's United Church, 65 King's Crescent, Ajax, ON... Learn more >
View All Events >
Thank you to the donors whose contributions make this website and all programs, services and research possible.

Copyright © 2018 Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada. Charitable Registration #BN118816339RR0001