New study discovers faulty genes underlying brain tumours


A new in-depth study funded by Cancer Research UK has shown that medulloblastoma brain tumours have faulty genes underlying the disease.

According to the researchers, the latest discovery can be used to develop new, targeted treatments that are more personal for patients with this type of brain tumour.

The study has been led by St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in the US and the German Cancer Research Centre.

Medulloblastoma is the most common brain tumour in children that can be divided into four groups, each differing in terms of patient survival and the type of brain cells that the disease starts in.

The scientists studied the DNA of approximately 500 people with medulloblastoma and compared samples from normal tissue and tumour tissue.

They also studied the data from a further 1,256 patients to find out how active different genes were.

Lead researcher Dr Peter Lichter said the disease-causing genes were previously only understood in approximately 30% of tumours belonging to groups three and four.

"The scientists studied the DNA of approximately 500 people with medulloblastoma and compared samples from normal tissue and tumour tissue."

The researchers claim that the new analysis has significantly increased the figure, identifying such genes in the majority of cases looked at in the current study.

They discovered genetic changes or faulty molecular pathways in more than 75% of the tumour samples included in the analysis.

Two of the faulty genes were been linked with cancer before, and were found only in the least understood disease groups three and four.

According to the scientists, the current work can also support research into more precise treatments by finding potential new targets for therapy.


Image: Medulloblastoma brain tumours have faulty genes underlying the disease. Photo: courtesy of Cancer Research UK.