GAINESVILLE Researchers have identified a genetic glitch that could lead to development of neuroblastoma, a deadly form of cancer that typically strikes children under 2.
Two University of Florida scientists are part of the multicenter team of researchers that made the discovery, which could pave the way for better treatments that target the disease, according to findings published Wednesday in the journal Nature.
"What makes our study so important is that although neuroblastoma accounts for 7 percent of childhood cancers, it is responsible for 15 percent of deaths in children with cancer," said Wendy London, Ph.D., a research associate professor of epidemiology, biostatistics and health policy research at the UF College of Medicine and a member of the UF Shands Cancer Center. "This paper adds yet another gene in the pathway that could lead to tumorigenesis (tumor formation) of neuroblastoma."
Neuroblastoma forms in developing nerve cells, with tumors most often found on a child's adrenal gland. It's the most common form of cancer in babies and the third most common childhood cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.
Led by John J. Maris, M.D., director of the Cancer Center at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, researchers performed what's known as a genome-wide association study to uncover errors in DNA that could be associated with neuroblastoma.
To do this, researchers analyzed the genetic makeup of 846 patients with neuroblastoma, whose samples were derived from the Children's Oncology Group Neuroblastoma Tumor Bank, and 803 healthy patients in a control group.
On the basis of their initial findings, the researchers performed a second validation analysis, pinpointing that a glitch called a "copy number variation" in a single chromosome is associated with neuroblastoma. Copy number variation has to do with the gain, loss or duplication of snippets of DNA.
"This is part of
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