Science Times: Transdifferentiation Induced Neural Stem Cells for the Treatment of Malignant Gliomas

Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) remains the deadliest malignant primary brain tumor, with >12 000 new patients diagnosed yearly and a median life expectancy of approximately 16 months despite maximal multimodal treatments. There has recently been an increasing interest in personalized medicine in tailoring treatments for many forms of cancers, including GBM. Cellular reprogramming techniques have been developed that may allow the development of large numbers of personalized stem cells. Transdifferentiation is such a technique that reprograms somatic stem cells into another cell type by bypassing dedifferentiation into a pluripotent state. Transdifferentiation can be used to create induced neural stem cells (iNSCs). Previous in vivo research using induced pluripotent stem cells has been stymied by the formation of cancerous teratomas. However, iNSCs have not shown such in vivo teratoma formation, suggesting that that iNSCs can provide safe, patient-specific cell transplantation therapy to treat disorders of the central nervous system.1,2

NSCs exhibit tumoritropic migration, allowing unprecedented access to GBM cancer cells. NSCs also have the ability to release anticancer molecules that could provide long-term drug delivery directly to the cancer cells.2 However, NSCs are located deep within the adult brain and are not readily available without invasive surgery. A recent study by Bagó et al1 shows a potential means of inducing NSCs from skin fibroblasts and specifically delivering tumoricidal treatments to GBM in vivo.

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