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New Research Shows the Deadly Effect of Neurons on Cancerous Tumors

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Neurons (red) and astrocytes (green), developed from stem cells.

Scientists have thoroughly studied the connections between the central nervous system and other systems, because our brain controls pretty much everything in our body: our movements, our emotions, and even our gut. Now, researchers are starting to realize the brain might also control something much more sinister—cancer.

Malignant tumors are groups of abnormal cells that can divide quickly, spread, and ultimately develop into cancer. In 2001, cancer biologists discovered the presence of nerve fibers—the projections that come from neurons—in tumors. Although neurons are typically regarded as harmless or perhaps even beneficial, this turned out not to be true in tumors. It appears that tumors can co-opt the signals neurons produce in order to grow, such as growth factors and neurotransmitters—hinting that neurons and cancer cells together might be a dangerous duo.

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Thanks !

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