Neuroblastoma is a childhood cancer, most commonly affecting children aged between 2 -3 and can be fatal. Since the tumour cells resemble certain cells in the adrenal glands, a joint research group from MedUni Vienna’s Center for Brain Research and the Swedish Karolinska Institute investigated the cellular origin of these cells and sympathetic neurons during the embryonic development of human adrenal glands. During the course of their investigations, they discovered a previously unknown cell type that might potentially be the origin of the tumour cells.
Treatments for this disease are extremely aggressive and challenging and relapses are not uncommon. So far, little is known about the origins of this cancer or the causes of relapse. However, it is assumed that neuroblastomas are due to abnormalities in the neural crest cells, which form the peripheral nervous system during embryogenesis.