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Elusive gene mutations found for malignant brain tumor
Date:8/4/2011

DURHAM, N.C. -- A discovery by scientists at Duke University Medical Center and Johns Hopkins University could increase the chances for an effective combination of drug therapy to treat the second most common type of brain tumor.

For years scientists have been looking for the primary cancer genes involved in the development of oligodendrogliomas. Scientists knew the two chromosomes that held the probable mutations, but not the particular gene information.

Now scientists at Duke and Johns Hopkins have discovered the most likely genetic mutations that researchers have been hunting for on chromosomes 1 and 19. These genes were difficult to find until the technology improved, said Hai Yan, M.D., Ph.D., Duke associate professor of pathology and co-corresponding author of the study.

"The team used whole genome sequencing technology so that no genes would be excluded, and we found to our surprise that one gene, on chromosome 19, was mutated in six out of the seven initial tumor specimens we sequenced," Yan said. "A mutation frequency of 85 percent is very high."

The study was published in the Aug. 4 ahead-of-print issue of the journal Science.

"Whenever we find genes mutated in a majority of tumors, it is likely that the pathway regulated by that gene is critical for the development and biology of the tumor," says Nickolas Papadopoulos, Ph.D., co-corresponding author and associate professor of oncology at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center.

The finding of two additional new genes involved in oligodendrogliomas increases the chances for an effective combination drug therapy for the tumor, Yan said. He envisions a combination cocktail of drugs similar to the combination-drug treatments taken by HIV patients that would target different pathways involved in cancer, and assist in reducing the chance of relapsing, increasing odds of success.

The genes they identified are tumor suppressor genes. The c
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Contact: Mary Jane Gore
mary.gore@duke.edu
919-660-1309
Duke University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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