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Published: 02 Aug, 2022

Knowledge of brain tumour metabolism can improve treatment

NEWS Researchers at Umeå University show that the expression of metabolites varies greatly between different subgroups of malignant brain tumours. The discovery can be used to develop better imaging techniques for the diagnosis and targeted treatment of specific types of tumours. The study is published in Neuro-Oncology.

Text: Ingrid Söderbergh

The interesting thing about this study is that we characterized the tumour’s metabolic processes in relation to tumour subtype and were able to clearly demonstrate unique metabolic markers for each subgroup.

Metabolites are chemical compounds that are created and used in the body to maintain cell metabolism and structure. A group of cancer researchers at Umeå University have analyzed metabolites in brain tumour tissue and were able to show that the expression of metabolites varies greatly between different subtypes of malignant brain tumours, so-called gliomas.

The study includes mass spectrometric analyzes of 224 gliomas and shows that each subtype of tumours has a unique pattern of metabolites. The knowledge can be used to better understand how different tumours grow.

“We know that different tumour types can have different genetic defects and that the prognosis is related to the tumour type that arose. The interesting thing about this study is that we characterized the tumour’s metabolic processes in relation to tumour subtype and were able to clearly demonstrate unique metabolic markers for each subtype, says Benny Björkblom, researcher at the Department of Chemistry at Umeå University and the study's lead author.

Every year, roughly 1,300 people are diagnosed with brain tumours in Sweden. Of these, glioma is the most common type in adults. Currently, the treatment of these tumours consists of surgery, radiotherapy and cytostatic, but the prognosis is different for different subtypes, and better treatments are needed.

“If we gain a better understanding of which molecules are important for different types of brain tumours, it can hopefully lead us to find new targeted treatments, says Beatrice Melin, professor at the Department of Radiation Sciences at Umeå University.

The interdisciplinary study involves researchers from several faculties and departments at Umeå University.

About the scientific article:

Björkblom B, Wibom C, Eriksson M, Bergenheim AT, Sjöberg RL, Jonsson P, Brännström T, Antti H, Sandström M, Melin B.: Distinct metabolic hallmarks of WHO classified adult glioma subtypes. Neuro Oncol. 2022 Feb 14:noac042. doi: 10.1093/neuonc/noac042. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 35157758.

https://academic.oup.com/neuro-oncology/advance-article-abstract/doi/10.1093/neuonc/noac042/6528465

For more information, please contact:

Benny Björkblom
Senior research engineer
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Beatrice Melin
Professor, senior consultant (attending) physician, professor
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