The cause of this kind of cancer remains unknown, and there is no cure. The complexity of the immune response to this tumor suggests that it will be difficult to identify key immune function proteins that inhibit tumor growth. Schwartzbaum said that in addition to using information about the immune system to treat tumors, researchers must also study the immune system to find ways to prevent these aggressive tumors.
The study is published in a recent issue of the journal Neuro-Oncology.
Glioblastomas constitute up to 60 percent of adult primary brain tumors in the United States, affecting an estimated 3 in 100,000 people. Patients who undergo surgery, radiation and chemotherapy survive on average for about one year, with fewer than a quarter of patients surviving up to two years and fewer than 10 percent surviving up to five years.
The researchers used publicly available data from genetic analysis of 142 brain tumor tissue samples collected from patients with glioblastoma multiforme tumors as part of the National Cancer Institute's The Cancer Genome Atlas project.
The scientists used levels of expression of the CD133 gene as an indicator of tumor progression. Previous studies had suggested that activation of this gene is related to tumor aggression and a poor clinical outcome.
With these data, Schwartzbaum and colleagues then plotted expression of immune function genes against levels of CD133 expression in these tumors.
Gene expression refers to the switching on or activation of genes. Schwartzbaum and her colleagues analyzed mRNA expression data in their study; mRNA synthesis is the first step in gene expression and may lead to creation of functional proteins.
The analysis showed that higher levels of CD133 expression were associated with lower levels of immune function gene expression in 69 percent of the genes
|Contact: Judith Schwartzbaum|
Ohio State University