Concept: Brain tumor
Generous behaviour is known to increase happiness, which could thereby motivate generosity. In this study, we use functional magnetic resonance imaging and a public pledge for future generosity to investigate the brain mechanisms that link generous behaviour with increases in happiness. Participants promised to spend money over the next 4 weeks either on others (experimental group) or on themselves (control group). Here, we report that, compared to controls, participants in the experimental group make more generous choices in an independent decision-making task and show stronger increases in self-reported happiness. Generous decisions engage the temporo-parietal junction (TPJ) in the experimental more than in the control group and differentially modulate the connectivity between TPJ and ventral striatum. Importantly, striatal activity during generous decisions is directly related to changes in happiness. These results demonstrate that top-down control of striatal activity plays a fundamental role in linking commitment-induced generosity with happiness.
Background Effective medical therapies are lacking for the treatment of neurofibromatosis type 1-related plexiform neurofibromas, which are characterized by elevated RAS-mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling. Methods We conducted a phase 1 trial of selumetinib (AZD6244 or ARRY-142886), an oral selective inhibitor of MAPK kinase (MEK) 1 and 2, in children who had neurofibromatosis type 1 and inoperable plexiform neurofibromas to determine the maximum tolerated dose and to evaluate plasma pharmacokinetics. Selumetinib was administered twice daily at a dose of 20 to 30 mg per square meter of body-surface area on a continuous dosing schedule (in 28-day cycles). We also tested selumetinib using a mouse model of neurofibromatosis type 1-related neurofibroma. Response to treatment (i.e., an increase or decrease from baseline in the volume of plexiform neurofibromas) was monitored by using volumetric magnetic resonance imaging analysis to measure the change in size of the plexiform neurofibroma. Results A total of 24 children (median age, 10.9 years; range, 3.0 to 18.5) with a median tumor volume of 1205 ml (range, 29 to 8744) received selumetinib. Patients were able to receive selumetinib on a long-term basis; the median number of cycles was 30 (range, 6 to 56). The maximum tolerated dose was 25 mg per square meter (approximately 60% of the recommended adult dose). The most common toxic effects associated with selumetinib included acneiform rash, gastrointestinal effects, and asymptomatic creatine kinase elevation. The results of pharmacokinetic evaluations of selumetinib among the children in this trial were similar to those published for adults. Treatment with selumetinib resulted in confirmed partial responses (tumor volume decreases from baseline of ≥20%) in 17 of the 24 children (71%) and decreases from baseline in neurofibroma volume in 12 of 18 mice (67%). Disease progression (tumor volume increase from baseline of ≥20%) has not been observed to date. Anecdotal evidence of decreases in tumor-related pain, disfigurement, and functional impairment was observed. Conclusions Our early-phase data suggested that children with neurofibromatosis type 1 and inoperable plexiform neurofibromas benefited from long-term dose-adjusted treatment with selumetinib without having excess toxic effects. (Funded by the National Institutes of Health and others; ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT01362803 .).
Background Multiparametric magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), with or without targeted biopsy, is an alternative to standard transrectal ultrasonography-guided biopsy for prostate-cancer detection in men with a raised prostate-specific antigen level who have not undergone biopsy. However, comparative evidence is limited. Methods In a multicenter, randomized, noninferiority trial, we assigned men with a clinical suspicion of prostate cancer who had not undergone biopsy previously to undergo MRI, with or without targeted biopsy, or standard transrectal ultrasonography-guided biopsy. Men in the MRI-targeted biopsy group underwent a targeted biopsy (without standard biopsy cores) if the MRI was suggestive of prostate cancer; men whose MRI results were not suggestive of prostate cancer were not offered biopsy. Standard biopsy was a 10-to-12-core, transrectal ultrasonography-guided biopsy. The primary outcome was the proportion of men who received a diagnosis of clinically significant cancer. Secondary outcomes included the proportion of men who received a diagnosis of clinically insignificant cancer. Results A total of 500 men underwent randomization. In the MRI-targeted biopsy group, 71 of 252 men (28%) had MRI results that were not suggestive of prostate cancer, so they did not undergo biopsy. Clinically significant cancer was detected in 95 men (38%) in the MRI-targeted biopsy group, as compared with 64 of 248 (26%) in the standard-biopsy group (adjusted difference, 12 percentage points; 95% confidence interval [CI], 4 to 20; P=0.005). MRI, with or without targeted biopsy, was noninferior to standard biopsy, and the 95% confidence interval indicated the superiority of this strategy over standard biopsy. Fewer men in the MRI-targeted biopsy group than in the standard-biopsy group received a diagnosis of clinically insignificant cancer (adjusted difference, -13 percentage points; 95% CI, -19 to -7; P<0.001). Conclusions The use of risk assessment with MRI before biopsy and MRI-targeted biopsy was superior to standard transrectal ultrasonography-guided biopsy in men at clinical risk for prostate cancer who had not undergone biopsy previously. (Funded by the National Institute for Health Research and the European Association of Urology Research Foundation; PRECISION ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT02380027 .).
Kinase inhibitors are effective cancer therapies, but tumors frequently develop resistance. Current strategies to circumvent resistance target the same or parallel pathways. We report here that targeting a completely different process, autophagy, can overcome multiple BRAF inhibitor resistance mechanisms in brain tumors. BRAF(V600E)mutations occur in many pediatric brain tumors. We previously reported that these tumors are autophagy-dependent and a patient was successfully treated with the autophagy inhibitor chloroquine after failure of the BRAF(V600E) inhibitor vemurafenib, suggesting autophagy inhibition overcame the kinase inhibitor resistance. We tested this hypothesis in vemurafenib-resistant brain tumors. Genetic and pharmacological autophagy inhibition overcame molecularly distinct resistance mechanisms, inhibited tumor cell growth, and increased cell death. Patients with resistance had favorable clinical responses when chloroquine was added to vemurafenib. This provides a fundamentally different strategy to circumvent multiple mechanisms of kinase inhibitor resistance that could be rapidly tested in clinical trials in patients with BRAF(V600E) brain tumors.
Glioma, including anaplastic astrocytoma and glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) are among the most commonly diagnosed malignant adult brain tumors. GBM is a highly invasive and angiogenic tumor, resulting in a 12 to 15 months median survival. The treatment of GBM is multimodal and includes surgical resection, followed by adjuvant radio-and chemotherapy. We have previously reported that short-term starvation (STS) enhances the therapeutic index of chemo-treatments by differentially protecting normal cells against and/or sensitizing tumor cells to chemotoxicity.
Acquired resistance is one of the major barriers to successful cancer therapy. The development of resistance is commonly attributed to genetic heterogeneity. However, heterogeneity of drug penetration of the tumor microenvironment both on the microscopic level within solid tumors as well as on the macroscopic level across metastases may also contribute to acquired drug resistance. Here we use mathematical models to investigate the effect of drug heterogeneity on the probability of escape from treatment and the time to resistance. Specifically we address scenarios with sufficiently potent therapies that suppress growth of all preexisting genetic variants in the compartment with the highest possible drug concentration. To study the joint effect of drug heterogeneity, growth rate, and evolution of resistance, we analyze a multi-type stochastic branching process describing growth of cancer cells in multiple compartments with different drug concentrations and limited migration between compartments. We show that resistance is likely to arise first in the sanctuary compartment with poor drug penetrations and from there populate non-sanctuary compartments with high drug concentrations. Moreover, we show that only below a threshold rate of cell migration does spatial heterogeneity accelerate resistance evolution, otherwise deterring drug resistance with excessively high migration rates. Our results provide new insights into understanding why cancers tend to quickly become resistant, and that cell migration and the presence of sanctuary sites with little drug exposure are essential to this end.
Glioma is the most common form of primary malignant brain tumor in adults, with approximately 4 cases per 100 000 people each year. Gliomas, like many tumors, are thought to primarily metabolize glucose for energy production; however, the reliance upon glycolysis has recently been called into question. In this study, we aimed to identify the metabolic fuel requirements of human glioma cells.
Electrical stimulation is currently used to treat a wide range of cardiovascular, sensory and neurological diseases. Despite its success, there are significant limitations to its application, including incompatibility with magnetic resonance imaging, limited control of electric fields and decreased performance associated with tissue inflammation. Magnetic stimulation overcomes these limitations but existing devices (that is, transcranial magnetic stimulation) are large, reducing their translation to chronic applications. In addition, existing devices are not effective for deeper, sub-cortical targets. Here we demonstrate that sub-millimeter coils can activate neuronal tissue. Interestingly, the results of both modelling and physiological experiments suggest that different spatial orientations of the coils relative to the neuronal tissue can be used to generate specific neural responses. These results raise the possibility that micro-magnetic stimulation coils, small enough to be implanted within the brain parenchyma, may prove to be an effective alternative to existing stimulation devices.
This work aimed to determine whether (1)H magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS), diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) are correlated with years of meditation and psychological variables in long-term Zen meditators compared to healthy non-meditator controls.
Although neuroscientific research has revealed experience-dependent brain changes across the life span in sensory, motor, and cognitive domains, plasticity relating to social capacities remains largely unknown. To investigate whether the targeted mental training of different cognitive and social skills can induce specific changes in brain morphology, we collected longitudinal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data throughout a 9-month mental training intervention from a large sample of adults between 20 and 55 years of age. By means of various daily mental exercises and weekly instructed group sessions, training protocols specifically addressed three functional domains: (i) mindfulness-based attention and interoception, (ii) socio-affective skills (compassion, dealing with difficult emotions, and prosocial motivation), and (iii) socio-cognitive skills (cognitive perspective-taking on self and others and metacognition). MRI-based cortical thickness analyses, contrasting the different training modules against each other, indicated spatially diverging changes in cortical morphology. Training of present-moment focused attention mostly led to increases in cortical thickness in prefrontal regions, socio-affective training induced plasticity in frontoinsular regions, and socio-cognitive training included change in inferior frontal and lateral temporal cortices. Module-specific structural brain changes correlated with training-induced behavioral improvements in the same individuals in domain-specific measures of attention, compassion, and cognitive perspective-taking, respectively, and overlapped with task-relevant functional networks. Our longitudinal findings indicate structural plasticity in well-known socio-affective and socio-cognitive brain networks in healthy adults based on targeted short daily mental practices. These findings could promote the development of evidence-based mental training interventions in clinical, educational, and corporate settings aimed at cultivating social intelligence, prosocial motivation, and cooperation.