Genetic markers hope for new brain tumor treatments

June 15, 2012

Researchers at The University of Nottingham have identified three sets of genetic markers that could potentially pave the way for new diagnostic tools for a deadly type of brain tumour that mainly targets children.

The study, published in the latest edition of , was led by Professor Richard Grundy at the University's Children's Brain Tumour Research Centre and Dr Suzanne Miller, a post doctoral research fellow in the Centre.

It focuses on a rare and called primitive neuro-ectodermal brain tumours. Patients with CNS PNET have a very and current treatments, including high dose chemotherapy and cranio-spinal radiotherapy are relatively unsuccessful and have severe lifelong side-effects. This is particularly the case in very young children.

Despite the need for new and more effective treatments, little research has been done to examine the underlying causes of CNS PNET, partly due to their rarity. The Nottingham study aimed to identify as a first step to improving the treatments and therapies available to fight the cancer.

The Nottingham team collaborated with researchers at the Hospital for Sick Kids in Toronto, Canada, to perform an International study collecting 142 CNS PNET samples from 20 institutions in nine countries.

Professor Richard Grundy said: "Following our earlier research we realised that an international effort was needed to bring sufficient numbers of cases together to make the breakthrough we needed to better understand this disease or indeed diseases identified in our study. The next step is to translate this knowledge into improving treatments."

By studying the genetics of the tumours, they discovered that instead of one cancer, the tumours have three sub-types featuring distinct and leading to different outcomes for patients.

They found that each group had its own through subtle differences in the way they expressed two , LIN28 and OLIG2.

When compared with clinical factors including age, survival and metastases (the spread of the tumours through the body), they discovered that group 1 tumours (primitive neural) were found most often in the youngest patients and had the poorest survival rates. Patients with group 3 tumours had the highest incidence of metastases at diagnosis.

Ultimately, the research has identified the two genetic markers LIN28 and OLIG2 as a promising basis for more effective tools for diagnosing and predicting outcomes for young patients with these types of brain tumours.

The research was funded by the Canadian Institute of Health Research, the Brainchild/Sick Kids Foundation and the Samantha Dickson Brain Tumour Trust.

Chief Executive of Samantha Dickson Brain Tumour Trust, Sarah Lindsell, said: "As the UK's leading brain tumour charity, and the largest dedicated funder of brain tumour research, we are delighted that our investment has led to such significant success. It is great to see that understanding of these tumours is improving – this is desperately needed given the poor outcomes for children with this tumour. Samantha Dickson Trust is proud to have been instrumental in this work."

Explore further: Researchers find simple reason why some children die despite aggressive modern therapy for brain cancer

Related Stories

Researchers find simple reason why some children die despite aggressive modern therapy for brain cancer

February 15, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- It can be frightening enough to know that your child has brain cancer without the additional heartbreak of being told that the treatment is not working despite aggressive therapy. New research from The ...

Children's brain tumors more diverse than previously believed

May 14, 2012
Paediatric brain tumours preserve specific characteristics of the normal cells from which they originate – a previously unknown circumstance with ramifications for how tumour cells respond to treatment. This has been ...

Genetic abnormality offers diagnostic hope for children's cancer

March 28, 2012
A chromosomal abnormality in children with a deadly form of brain cancer is linked with a poorer chance of survival, clinician scientists at The University of Nottingham have discovered.

Recommended for you

Tracking how multiple myeloma evolves by sequencing DNA in the blood

December 10, 2017
Although people with multiple myeloma usually respond well to treatment, the blood cancer generally keeps coming back. Following genetic changes in how the disease evolves over time will help to understand the disease and, ...

Landmark CAR-T cancer study published

December 10, 2017
Loyola University Medical Center is the only Chicago center that participated in the pivotal clinical trial of a groundbreaking cancer treatment that genetically engineers a patient's immune system to attack cancer cells.

Study finds emojis promising tool for tracking cancer patients' quality of life

December 10, 2017
In findings presented to the American Society of Hematology, Mayo Clinic researchers found that using emojis instead of traditional emotional scales were helpful in assessing patients' physical, emotional and overall quality ...

Study explores use of checkpoint inhibitors after relapse from donor stem cell transplant

December 10, 2017
Immunotherapy agents known as checkpoint inhibitors have shown considerable promise in patients with hematologic cancers who relapse after a transplant with donor stem cells. Preliminary results from the first clinical trial ...

Blood test may help predict which breast cancers will recur

December 8, 2017
A blood test five years after breast cancer treatment helped identify some women who were more likely to relapse, long before a lump or other signs appeared, a preliminary study found.

Alcohol-abuse drug Antabuse kills cancer cells

December 8, 2017
A new study in Nature by an international team including researchers from Karolinska Institutet, reports that the alcohol-abuse drug Antabuse is effective against cancer. The study also identifies a potential mechanism of ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.