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Scientists have a new tactic with potential for fighting medulloblastoma, the most common and most aggressive form of brain tumor in children.

The results are scheduled for publication in Cancer Cell.

Several emerging anticancer treatments are called “epigenetic therapies,” targeting the ways cancer cells shut off genes that could restrain their growth. The new tactic revives a protective gene called BAI1, by interfering with a protein that medulloblastoma cells use to silence BAI1.

Reactivating BAI1, with a compound that penetrates into the brain, blocks medulloblastoma growth in mice. Senior author Erwin Van Meir, PhD, says this compound could be a basis for drug discovery and a valuable tool for attacking other types of cancer as well.

“It was a surprise the molecule we identified was more specific than we thought.” Van Meir says. “This opens up a new area in epigenetic therapy.”

Van Meir says that the Cancer Cell paper brings together research in his lab over the last 10 years. His team had originally been studying BAI1, because it was silenced in glioblastoma, another malignant brain tumor seen in adults. They had initially noticed that BAI1 is a regulator of angiogenesis, the process by which tumors attract new

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