The Secret Life Of ‘Tweeting’ Tumors

Researchers have discovered how brain tumors communicate with other cells using the biological equivalent of “tweeting”.

AsianScientist (Jun. 26, 2013) – Australian researchers have discovered how brain tumors communicate with other cells using the biological equivalent of “tweeting”.

The study, published in RNA Biology, found that brain tumors release small packets of information, known as microvesicles, containing short RNA messages that interact with brain blood vessel cells.

“It seems that many cells release microvesicles allowing them to communicate and influence other cells nearby and in distant parts of the body in real-time – much like tweeting,” said Associate Professor Michael Buckland, one of the study’s lead authors.

He added that the scientific and medical community are only just becoming aware of the importance of microvesicles in both health and disease.

The researchers grew brain tumor cells in the lab and harvested microvesicles released into the liquid medium around the cells. The addition of these brain tumor microvesicles to cultures of brain blood vessel cells elicited significant changes within the cells.

“Microvesicles are therefore likely to play an important role in the changes to blood vessels seen in high grade brain tumours, the most common form in Australian adults,” said Professor Buckland.

“These vesicles present a new target for treatments against brain tumours. Furthermore, they can be detected in the blood of patients with brain tumours, and may be an important diagnostic tool in the future.”

The article can be found at: Li et al. (2013) Glioma Microvesicles Carry Selectively Packaged Coding And Noncoding RNAs Which Alter Gene Expression In Recipient Cells.


Source: University of Sydney; Photo: Andreas Eldh (eldh)/Flickr.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.

Yew Chung is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School, Singapore.

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