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New tumor markers determine therapy intensity
Date:3/17/2009

tumor after surgery, and existence of metastases at diagnosis.

Patients with a poor prognosis can be treated more intensively

Stefan Pfister and his research group "Molecular Genetics of Pediatric Brain Tumors" first described the new tumor markers in the medulloblastoma in 2007. For the current study, he examined tumor samples from 340 patients and compared the documented course of disease with genetic aberrations in the tumor DNA. Aberrations were seen at the chromosome level, the units in which the entire genetic information is distributed and contained. Each chromosome contains large amounts of genetic information; the entire genetic material of humans is distributed in 23 such portions, each of which is usually present in two copies (2 x 23 chromosomes). Stefan Pfister discovered that if entire segments of chromosomes number 6 and 17 are present in three copies (instead of the usual 2 copies) in the genetic material of the brain tumors, the patient's prognosis is poor. If however, one copy of chromosome 6 is missing in the tumor, the patients in the collective observed always survived. The combination of these and other characteristics led to a classification of the patients in a total of five groups requiring varying levels of intensity in treatment.

"With these markers, we can reliably identify patients with a poor prognosis and treat them more intensely from the start," said Dr. Stefan Pfister. "At the same time, we can reduce the treatment intensity for patients who will presumably respond especially well to radiation and chemotherapy. We can thus reduce consequential damage and the risk of secondary malignancies."

Another advantage of the new markers the test is very robust and can be carried out within 48 hours in any neuropathology laboratory on tissue samples conventionally preserved in paraffin.

BMBF promotes the search for other tumor markers

The prospective validation of these mar
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Contact: Dr. Stefan Pfister
s.pfister@dkfz.de
062-215-64555
University Hospital Heidelberg
Source:Eurekalert

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