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While considered rare in the general population of cancers, glioblastoma is the most common primary cancer found in adults. That “primary” designation is important and Dr. Sunit Das explains why and how he works as a clinician and researcher to get some traction on fighting brain cancer.

Listen and learn

  • What common treatments exist, including chemo and radiotherapy for brain tumors,
  • What genetic mechanisms of disease and even the role of epigenetics seem to play in the heterogeneous findings from biopsies,
  • How glioblastoma progresses biologically, inducing brain tissue damage and cancer cell growth outside of the tumor mass, and
  • Why while the struggle to make progress on treating this disease continues, hope may lie in identifying patterns in the heterogeneity.

Sunit Das is an associate professor in the Department of Surgery at the University of Toronto. His clinical work centers on removing tumors from the brain and his researcher focuses on the biology of brain stem cells, comparing normal and cancerous. Because brain surgery for cancer is usually far from curative, he’s developed a keen interest in researching brain tissue function and how to make strides in treatment.

He discusses how the clinical and scientific sides of his work inform each other, from following a patient through surgery and brain cancer chemo to understanding how biopsies from multiple parts of a tumor translate to a challenging heterogeneity. He comments, “we can put the things that we learned from watching cells and the way they behave into the greater context of thinking of a tumor and how that manifests in the patient experience.”

He answers numerous questions, including how brain tumors grow, if there’s a clear difference between tumor and normal brain tissue, and whether tumor cells are simply transformed normal cells. The final image he presents helps listeners understand the nature of this disease and what scientists hope to learn to find better treatments.

For more about his work and for contact information, see his web page at the University of Toronto.

Episode also available on Apple Podcasts: apple.co/30PvU9C

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