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Genetic mutations that cause common childhood brain tumors identified
Date:7/22/2012

STANFORD, Calif. Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital have identified several gene mutations responsible for the most common childhood brain tumor, called medulloblastoma, adding evidence to the theory that the diagnosis is a group of genetically distinct cancers with different prognoses. These and accompanying findings are likely to lead to less-toxic, better-targeted treatment approaches over the next two years, the researchers said.

"We tend to treat all medulloblastomas as one disease without taking into account how heterogeneous the tumors are at the molecular level," said Yoon-Jae Cho, MD, an assistant professor of neurology and neurological sciences at Stanford, a pediatric neurologist at Packard Children's and the senior author of the new research. "This paper represents a finer-grained view of the genetic landscape of these tumors and provides us with some leads on how to develop new therapies."

The research, which will appear online in Nature July 22, is part of a large, ongoing effort to characterize genetic errors in medulloblastoma. Two companion studies on which Cho is a co-author will be published simultaneously with his paper. The three papers came from a consortium that involves scientists at Stanford, Packard Children's, the Broad Institute, Children's Hospital Boston, the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, the German Cancer Research Center, Brandeis University and the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.

Current treatment for medulloblastoma, which originates in the cerebellum and affects about 250 U.S. children each year, begins with surgery to remove as much of the tumor as possible. Patients then receive a combination of radiation and chemotherapy, but the treatments are not tailored to the tumor's genetic characteristics.

Cho's team extracted DNA from 92 medulloblastoma tumors and compared it with DNA from matched blood samples from the sam
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Contact: Erin Digitale
digitale@stanford.edu
650-724-9175
Stanford University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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