Biomedical engineering researchers in the US are leading research into a new stage of the stem cell life cycle that could be the key to unlocking new methods of brain cancer treatment. Christopher Plaisier from Arizona state university and Samantha OConnor from Plaisier Lab have developed a new cells classifier thattakes a high-resolution look at the life cycle of neuroepithelial stem cells and has led to the discovery of a new resting phase. Their study has been published in Molecular Systems Biology.

The new study could help scientists better understand glioma brain tumours and develop new methods of treatment. "The cell cycle is such a well-studied thing and yet here we are looking at it again for the umpteenth time and a new phase pops out at us," Plaisier says. "Biology always has new insights to show us, you just have to look."

The work started when O'Connor developed a new cell cycle classifier tool called ccAF, or cell cycle ASU/Fred Hutchinson that takes a closer, "high-resolution" look at what's happening within the growth cycles of stem cells and identifies genes that can be used to track progress through the cell cycle. The team then used the ccAF tool to analyse cell data for glioma tumours. They then found that the tumour cells were often either in the Neural G0 or G1 growth state.

As the tumour became more aggressive, fewer and fewer cells remain in the resting Neural G0 state. This means more and more cells are proliferating and growing the tumour. They then correlated this data with prognosis for patients with glioblastoma and discovered that a higher level of Neural G0 state of tumour cells had less aggressive tumours. They also found that the quiescent Neural G0 state is independent of a tumour's proliferation rate, or how fast its cells divide and create new cells.

"That was an interesting finding from our results, that quiescence itself could be a different biological process," Plaisier says. "It's also a potential point where we could look for new drug treatments. If we could push more cells into that quiescent state, the tumors would become less aggressive."

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Scientists discover new resting phase of stem cells that could put brain tumours to sleep - Republic World

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