Friday, December 26, 2008

causes of brain tumours

I was reading an interesting article in the January issue of Scientific American. There is a lot of attention and research on brain tumours since American Senator Edward Kennedy announced his. Biomedical writer, Melinda Wenner, writes on research specific to research on potential treatments, based on these new findings.

The article cites research that points the finger to viruses as being the cause of various cancers.
For example:
  • Human papillomavirus: cervical cancer
  • Hepatitis B: liver cancer
  • Epstein-Barr: lymphoma
Cancer biologists have found that malignant brain tumours, the late-stage version glioblastoma multiforme, have been associated with cytomegalovirus (CMV), usually a harmless herpes virus.

Many diseases are associated with abnormal immune system activity. For example, arthritis has been positied to be an abnormal response to an immune system gone haywire. In the 1990s, Charles Cobbs, a neurosurgeon at CaliforniaU, began research into links between inflammation and brain tumours. Further research has led to a potential prevention through a vaccination.

The team found, after analysing 22 patient samples, that all of them had this virus in their cells.
While the article goes on to say that 4/5 people have this virus in their system, remaining in their bodies for life, one's immune system usually keep the virus at bay, in a 'latent state'. All of these 22 samples demonstrated that the virus was being replicated and had infected the brain tumour.

If we can prevent the pain and the awful consequences I would be grateful. I still remember my dad with that awful set of u-shaped staples on his head.

This holds hope for prevention. I hope it can be cured. Dad's tumour could not entirely be excised, they need to avoid damaging the brain cells. He fought it bravely, with surgery (March, 2003), radiation (April/May, 2006) and finally succumbed in February, 2007.
See also: Surgeon changes study of brain tumors, Oct. 6, 2008

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