Novel Brain Scan Technique Exposes Vulnerability of Gliomas

A South Korean research team has discovered a novel brain scan technique that has the potential to revolutionize glioblastoma diagnosis and treatment. Led by Severance Hospital’s Professor Yun Mijin and Director C. Justin Lee from the Center for Cognition and Sociality, the research the team developed a novel imaging technique that can observe the tumor microenvironment directly.

The imaging procedure leverages a mechanism where brain astrocytes take up elevated acetate levels and become hazardous reactive astrocytes. Using this mechanism in the imaging technique granted the research team unprecedented insight into the tumor microenvironment and opened the door to the development of new techniques to diagnose and treat glioblastoma multiforme (GBM).

GBM, or grade UV astrocytoma, is an incredibly aggressive and fast-growing brain tumor that can be fatal within six months. As a result, a quick diagnosis is key to improving survival outcomes for glioblastoma multiforme patients. Accounting for most primary malignant brain tumors, the condition’s median overall survival rate of 15 months makes it the most aggressive brain tumor. It is known for forming a tumor microenvironment that comprises different types of cells, including nontumorous cells such as astrocytes and cancer stem cells.

Reactive astrogliosis of the astrocytes within the tumor microenvironment contributes to glioblastoma drug resistance, brain tissue invasion and proliferation.  Furthermore, these reactive astrocytes are easily trackable as they metabolize acetate excessively, providing the research team with a mechanism they could use to peer into the tumor microenvironment.

The researchers used Positron Emission Tomography with carbon-11 acetate as a probe (PET imaging) to image reactive astrocytes in glioblastoma patients and found the method to be especially effective at tracking GBM. Because both the tumor and the reactive astrocytes in the tumor microenvironment metabolized acetate, the research team could track and identify components of the tumor rather effectively using PET imaging.

Study author and nuclear medicine physician Kim Dongwoo says the novel imaging brain scan technique could be effective at diagnosing glioblastoma and helping physicians determine the best surgical resection areas.

The South Korean researchers were also interested in the acetate metabolism mechanism’s potential therapeutic benefits against glioblastoma. According to team lead Mijin, the research team found that reactive astrocytes do have the potential to be a “great therapeutic target” for the aggressive brain tumor. Lee stated that further studies are required to determine how cancer stem cells in the tumor microenvironment interact with surrounding neurons.

As the diagnosis and monitoring of brain tumors becomes more accurate, treatments being developed by enterprises such as CNS Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: CNSP) may do a better job of delivering optimal clinical results to the patients diagnosed with these conditions.

NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to CNS Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: CNSP) are available in the company’s newsroom at

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