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Researchers identify genetic signature of deadly brain cancer
Date:6/3/2013

A multi-institutional team of researchers have pinpointed the genetic traits of the cells that give rise to gliomas the most common form of malignant brain cancer. The findings, which appear in the journal Cell Reports, provide scientists with rich new potential set of targets to treat the disease.

"This study identifies a core set of genes and pathways that are dysregulated during both the early and late stages of tumor progression," said University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) neurologist Steven Goldman, M.D., Ph.D., the senior author of the study and co-director of the Center for Translational Neuromedicine. "By virtue of their marked difference from normal cells, these genes appear to comprise a promising set of targets for therapeutic intervention."

As its name implies, gliomas arise from a cell type found in the central nervous system called the glial cell. Gliomas progress in severity over time and ultimately become highly invasive tumors known as glioblastomas, which are difficult to treat and almost invariably fatal. Current treatments, which include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy, can delay disease progression, but ultimately prove ineffective.

Cancer research has been transformed over the past several years by new concepts arising from stem cell biology. Scientists now appreciate that many cancers are the result of rogue stem cells or their offspring, known as progenitor cells. Traditional cancer therapies often do not prevent a recurrence of the disease since they may not effectively target and destroy the cancer-causing stem cells that lie at the heart of the tumors.

Gliomas are one such example. The source of the cancer is a cell found in the brain called the glial progenitor cell. The cells, which arise from and maintain characteristics of stem cells, comprise about three percent of the cell population of the human brain. When these cells become cancerous they are tran
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Contact: Mark Michaud
mark_michaud@urmc.rochester.edu
585-273-4790
University of Rochester Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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