Cancer shredding, daytime sleepiness, and a dexamethasone review

3 min read


New CRISPR approach shows promise for treating glioblastoma. Using a novel technique they've dubbed "cancer shredding," researchers have programmed CRISPR (technology that can cut and edit genes) to locate repeating DNA sequences present only in recurrent glioblastoma tumour cells, and then obliterate those cells by snipping away at them. Working with cell lines from a patient whose glioblastoma returned after prior treatments, the team used CRISPR to destroy the tumour cells while sparing healthy cells. 

Published in Cell Reports, the study used computational methods to analyse whole genomes of cancer cells, and then investigated the non-coding DNA to identify repetitive code all of them shared, even if they harboured a different variety of mutations. Armed with that data, the researchers were able to guide CRISPR to the mutated cancerous cells and destroy them. 

Study Finds Genetic Mutation Combats Daytime Sleepiness Caused by Brain Cancer Treatment. While cancer research often focuses on prolonging survival, ensuring patients feel good day-to-day could be argued to be just as important. In fact, treatments that extend a person’s life often have side effects that diminish quality of life.  

In a set of preclinical experiments published in Neuro-Oncology Advances, researchers at the U.S. based NCI Center for Cancer Research’s Neuro-Oncology Branch Patient Outcomes Research Program showed that a specific genetic alteration could help identify which brain tumour patients are at risk for certain adverse side effects. The results could advance personalised therapies and improve the treatment experience. 

Genetic and transcriptional evolution alters cancer cell line drug response. Human cancer cell lines are the workhorse of cancer research, and although cell lines are known to evolve in culture, the extent of the resultant genetic and transcriptional differences, and their functional consequences, remain understudied. This study investigated breast cancer cell lines and discovered rapid genetic diversification, alongside striking disparities between drug response for cells grown from the same cell line. The researchers concluded that cancer cell lines remain a powerful tool for cancer research, but the high degree of variation across cell line strains must be considered in experimental design and data interpretation. 


The story of dexamethasone and how it became one of the most widely used drugs in neurosurgery. Dexamethasone, a long-acting potent steroid, is one of the most widely used medications in neurosurgery. It is prescribed to brain tumour patients to reduce cerebral swelling, which in turn reduces intracranial pressure and improves accompanying symptoms and neurological deficits. However, as neuro-oncological treatments evolve to include immunotherapy, the immunosuppressive effects of dexamethasone are becoming an unwanted effect. In this paper (behind a paywall), the authors recount the history of dexamethasone’s rise in neurosurgery and discuss its use in brain tumours in the content of emerging neuro-oncological immunotherapies.  


Future of Neurosurgery Lecture Series #2 

Date: Tuesday 12th  December, 18.00-19.00 GMT  

Location: Wolfson Lecture theatre, National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery  

Stereo-electroencephalography as a tool to characterize the brain circuitry of movement and discover novel electrical stimulation strategies, with an illustration for treatment of myoclonus after anoxic brain injury. 

Presented by Kai Miller, PhD, MD, PhD; Associate Professor of Neurosurgery, Paediatrics, and Biomedical Engineering, Mayo Clinic, USA    Book here.

UCL Brain Tumour Seminar Series #15  

Date: Wednesday 6th December 12.00-13.00 GMT, Online 

Brain tumour genetic network signatures of survival – James Ruffle, MRC Clinical Research Training Fellow, UCL  

Comprehensive characterisation of CDKN2A alterations in meningioma – Justin Z.Wang, PhD Candidate, PGY4, Division of Neurosurgery, UoT  

Book here.

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