A common type of brain tumor may be caused by mature adult cells being genetically "rewound" to a more immature state, according to a study in the journal Science.
The discovery could pave the way for improved brain cancer treatments. The cancer that was studied, called glioblastoma multiforme, is the most common type of brain tumor. It is also the most aggressive.
Researchers had previously thought that the tumors were generated by neural stem cells gone awry rather than adult cells, which were not thought to have a natural ability to revert to an earlier state of development. (The 2012 Nobel Prize in Medicine was given in part to researchers who discovered an artificial way of causing cells to revert to such an earlier stage.)
In the new study, researchers from UC San Diego led by geneticist Dinorah Friedmann-Morvinski used viruses to ferry DNA known to cause cancer -- called oncogenes -- into the brain cells of mice.