Light has been shed on the role of stem cells in medulloblastomas, the most common type of children's brain tumor, in a new study.
Researchers at Queen Mary, University of London, studied equivalent cells taken from mouse brains.
Principal investigator Silvia Marino, Professor of Neuropathology at Queen Mary, University of London, and her team showed that medulloblastomas can grow from a type of brain stem cell and that these cancers are a distinct form of the disease which may require a completely different approach to treatment.
She said: "This type of brain tumour can pose a great challenge to doctors. In some children, treatment works well but in others the cancer is aggressive and far harder to treat.
"As scientists we've been trying to understand how these cancers which look the same can behave so differently. This study is a major advance for us because it shows for the first time that some of these tumours develop from endogenous stem cells.
"This is important for two reasons. First, it could help us to tell which cancers will respond well to treatment and which will need a more aggressive therapy. Second, this new understanding could help us to find much-needed new drugs for the disease."
The new research was published in Oncogene.