Stem Cell

New approach may kill tumor cells in the brain

Image-MSC-oHSV-killing-tumor-cells

Investigators from Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) and the Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) may have discovered a way to kill tumor cells that have metastasized to the brain.

The team has developed cancer-killing viruses that can deliver stem cells via the carotid artery, and applied them to metastatic tumors in the brains of clinically relevant mouse models. The elimination of metastatic skin cancer cells from the brains of these preclinical models resulted in prolonged survival, the investigators report. The study, published online this week in the journal PNAS, also describes a strategy of combining this therapy with immune checkpoint inhibitors.

“Metastatic brain tumors — often from lung, breast, or skin cancers — are the most commonly observed tumors within the brain and account for about 40 percent of advanced melanoma metastases. Current therapeutic options for such patients are limited, particularly when there are many metastases,” said Khalid Shah, director of the Center for Stem Cell Therapeutics and Imaging (CSTI) in the BWH Department of Neurosurgery, who led the study. “Our results are the first to provide insight into ways of targeting multiple brain metastatic deposits with stem-cell-loaded oncolytic viruses that specifically kill dividing tumor cells.”

In their search for novel, tumor-specific therapies that could target multiple metastases in the brain without damaging adjacent tissues, the research team first developed different BRAF wild-type and mutant mouse…