Brain Barriers Breached to Attack Tumors

The brain has barriers to protect itself from bacteria and other pathogens but if infections and diseases get past those barriers then the immune system is also kept out.

Yale researchers have found a way to get immune system rescuers through the brain’s protective drainage system.

Tiny vessels are form shortly after birth, spurred in part by the gene known as vascular endothelial growth factor C, or VEGF-C.

VEGF-C was specifically bused to increase the immune system’s surveillance of glioblastoma tumors. Introducing VEGF-C through this drainage system would specifically target brain tumors.

VEGF C was placed into the cerebrospinal fluid of mice with glioblastoma and observed an increased level of T cell response to tumors in the brain. When combined with immune system checkpoint inhibitors commonly used in immunotherapy, the VEGF-C treatment significantly extended survival of the mice. In other words, the introduction of VEGF-C, in conjunction with cancer immunotherapy drugs, was apparently sufficient to target brain tumors.

7 thoughts on “Brain Barriers Breached to Attack Tumors”

  1. For the effects you describe to happen simultaneously, either the BBB has to be compromised in multiple areas of the brain, or the immune cells have to be able to spread rapidly inside brain tissue. Both seem unlikely.

    Some arguments to contradict your claims:

    – People survive intracranial hemorrhage strokes without suffering any of the aftereffects you describe, other than from local brain damage from the bleeding.
    – Multiple sclerosis (MS) is thought to be an auto-immune disorder in which the immune system attacks the myelin in the brain and spinal cord. The average life expectancy is 30 years from the start of the disease, not 6 hours.
    – “The blood-brain barrier becomes more permeable during inflammation, allowing antibiotics and phagocytes to move across the BBB” –
    – “during a neuroimmune response, certain peripheral immune cells are able to cross various blood or fluid-brain barriers in order to respond to pathogens” –
    – A lymphatic system was recently found in the brain, suggesting a more intimate link with the immune system than previously thought –
    – (edit) Peripheral nerves aren’t protected by the BBB to begin with.

    The BBB is there to prevent blood-borne infections from reaching the brain. What you describe sounds more like a pseudo-scientific urban legend.

  2. No agony? OK, here goes the short version.
    Progressive destruction of motor neurons, which control everything from heart and lungs to sphincters and bowels.
    Progressive destruction of limbic system, which controls emotional state and endocrine system (hormones).
    Progressive destruction of peripheral nerves, which transmit signals into brain, including pain and all kinds of sensations.
    So, picture a state when one simultaneously has rage, erection, skin on fire and itchy, fever and cold, tremor in every muscle, spasms, paralysis, short breath and diarrhea – for six hours, in varying combinations. If that is not agony, agony does not exist. Even nerve gas intoxication is much less bad, and a much quicker death.

    Tempering with brain-blood barrier imposes a very high cost of any error, even delayed by many years.


    In other cancer news it looks like they have potentially created a trap for circulating cancer cells. What’s new is that they didn’t have to load the solid cryogel vaccines with cancer mutated peptides or killed cancer cells. The blank cryogels attracted the AML cancer cells, which where then killed by the standard chemotherapy and any of their neoantigens where then taken up by dendritic cells also attracted by the cyrogel and presented to the immune system.

    In the future prehaps they could contruct the cyrogel and delivery method of the chemotherapy so that the chemoherapy drugs are released only with the cyrogel and not body wide.

    “But, when the researchers started to tinker with the vaccine’s components to investigate why it worked so well, they saw something completely unexpected: vaccines that had no AML antigen in them were just as effective at providing protection as vaccines containing either AML cell contents or WT-1 peptide.

    “We were definitely surprised and really didn’t expect this result, because we initially thought that including the antigen in the vaccine was critical. That led us down some research avenues we hadn’t previously considered to try and understand what was going on,” said co-first author Alex Najibi, a graduate student in the Mooney lab. “We found that AML cells actually enter the cryogels over time, right where dendritic cells are already concentrated and activated.”

  4. have we spent millions again to help mice?

    Well they did pay the Magratheans to build the Earth in the first place. It only makes sense they arrange matters to get all the good medical advances.

  5. There are no pain receptors in the brain. So no agony. Modification of personality…possibly.
    I don’t think you can spin this negative…this sounds very good. Killing cancer without brain surgery would be a very big win.
    And there are a number of infections the brain can get and we all have some. The prospect of wiping these out sounds terrific to me.

    And doubly so now that there is mounting evidence that Alzheimer’s, and some forms of mental illness, may be caused by brain infection.

    The real questions is: can we really do this in humans? Or have we spent millions again to help mice?

  6. Breaching the brain-blood barrier to kill cancer by immune response is a rather risky business. That barrier exists for a reason: for immune system, brain is a foreign body. If the barrier is breached, immune system attacks nervous tissue (brain, nerves, anything with “foreign” proteins”). Brain cancer may be able to kill in a year, but immune system attacking brain does that in six hours (of pure agony). I wonder how many mice did not live to see their cancer killed.

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