Scientists at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center have deciphered the genetic code for medulloblastoma, the most common pediatric brain cancer and a leading killer of children with cancer. The genetic "map" is believed to be the first reported of a pediatric cancer genome and is published online in the December 16 issue of Science Express.
Notably, the findings show that children with medulloblastoma have five- to tenfold fewer cancer-linked alterations in their genomes compared with their adult counterparts, the scientists say.
"These analyses clearly show that genetic changes in pediatric cancers are remarkably different from adult tumors. With fewer alterations, the hope is that it may be easier to use the information to develop new therapies for them," says Victor Velculescu, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of oncology at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center.
"We now know what many pieces of the medulloblastoma puzzle are," adds Bert Vogelstein, M.D., Clayton Professor of Oncology and co-director of the Ludwig Center at Johns Hopkins. "Now, we must figure out how to put the puzzle together and zero in on parts of the puzzle to develop new therapies. This is what scientists will be focused on for the next decade."
The Johns Hopkins team used automated tools to sequence hundreds of millions of individual chemicals called nucleotides, which pair together in a preprogrammed fashion to build DNA and, in turn, a genome. Combinations of these nucleotide letters form genes, which provide instructions that guide cell activity. Alterations in the nucleotides, called mutations, can create coding errors that transform a normal cell into a cancerous one. The scientists at Johns Hopkins have previously mapped genome sequences for pancreatic, adult brain, breast and colon cancers with similar methods.
For the study, scientists sequenced nearly all protein-encoding genes in 22 samples of pediatric medulloblast
|Contact: Vanessa Wasta|
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions