A special type of cell essential to the ability of olfactory neurons to regenerate may be genetically engineered to deliver anticancer therapy to the dangerous brain tumors called glioblastomas. In their report published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) researchers describe using olfactory ensheathing cells to deliver an anticancer agent only to tumor cells and how the treatment reduced tumor size and prolonged survival in a mouse model.
“Glioblastomas are the most aggressive and malignant type of brain tumors, and despite intensive treatment with surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy, they almost always recur, leading to a five-year survival rate of less than 10 percent,” says Bakhos Tannous, PhD, of the Neuro-Oncology Division in the MGH Department of Neurology, senior author of the report. “Olfactory ensheathing cells – which are present in the nose throughout life in all mammals, including humans – can migrate from the nasal cavity to sites of inflammation and have the potential of acting as a ‘Trojan horse,’ delivering cell-killing therapies that bypass the barriers that keep other anticancer agents out of the brain.”
Olfactory neurons – the cells in the nasal cavity that perceive odors and pass signals along
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