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

sformed into glioma stem cells, essentially glial progenitor cells whose molecular machinery has gone awry, resulting in uncontrolled cell division.

Goldman and his team have long studied normal glial progenitor cells. These cells produce glia, a category that includes both astrocytes cells that support the function of neurons and oligodendrocytes cells that produces myelin, the fatty insulation that allows the long-distance conduction of neural impulses.

While Goldman's group's work has primarily focused on ways to use glial progenitor cells to treat neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis, their understanding of the biology of these cells and mastery of the techniques required to sort, identify, and isolate these cells has also enabled them to explore the molecular and genetic changes that transform these cells into cancers.

Using human tissue samples representing the three principal stages of the cancer, the researchers were able to identify and isolate the cancer-inducing stem cells. Working with Goldman, lead authors Romane Auvergne, Ph.D. and Fraser Sim, Ph.D. then compared the gene expression profiles of these cancer stem cells to those of normal glial progenitor cells. The objective was to both pinpoint the earliest genetic changes associated with cancer formation and identify those genes that were unique to the cancer stem cells and were expressed at every stage of disease progression.

Out of a pool over 44,000 tested genes and sequences, the scientists identified a small set of genes in the cancerous glioma progenitor cells that were over-expressed at all stages of malignancy. These genes formed a unique "signature" that identified the tumor progenitor cells and enabled the scientists to define a corresponding set of potential therapeutic targets present throughout all stages of the cancer.

"One of the key things you are looking for in drug development in cancer is a protein or gene that is o
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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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