Pediatric cancer researchers have identified variations in a gene as important contributors to neuroblastoma, the most common solid cancer of early childhood. The study team, led by researchers at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, found that common variants in the LMO1 gene increase the risk of developing an aggressive form of neuroblastoma, and also mark the gene for continuing to drive the cancer's progression once it forms.
The study appears online today in Nature. A cancer of the sympathetic nervous system that usually occurs as a solid tumor in the abdomen, neuroblastoma accounts for 10 percent of childhood cancer deaths.
"Although genes closely related to LMO1 have previously been implicated in other cancers, this gene was not previously suspected to have a role in neuroblastoma," said study leader John M. Maris, M.D., director of the Center for Childhood Cancer Research at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. "We found that in addition to putting a child at risk of developing neuroblastoma, it acts as an oncogenedriving the biological changes that make tumors grow and spread throughout the body."
Although direct clinical applications are not immediate, Maris added, investigating this oncogene may suggest targets for developing more effective neuroblastoma treatments.
Maris collaborated with Hakon Hakonarson, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Center for Applied Genomics at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and co-senior author on the study, as well as with a large team of international investigators in performing a genome-wide association study (GWAS). They analyzed DNA samples from 2,251 patients (most of which were provided by the multicenter Children's Oncology Group) along with 6,097 control samples.
The researchers found a significant association between neuroblastoma and the LMO1 gene, located on chromosome 11, detecting the strongest signal among patients with the most aggressive form of
|Contact: John Ascenzi|
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia