Researchers discover gene mutations that cause childhood brain cancer
Researchers funded by the Canadian Cancer Society have discovered eight similar genes that, when mutated, appear to be responsible for medulloblastoma – the most common of childhood brain cancers. The findings are published today in the online edition of the journal Nature Genetics. "This discovery is very promising and may help researchers develop better, more targeted treatments so that more of these children will survive and fewer will suffer debilitating side effects," says Dr. Christine Williams, Director of Research Programs, Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute.
Dr. Michael Taylor, who has a $600,000 research grant from the Canadian Cancer Society, led the study: "When these eight genes are functioning normally, we believe their role is to make a protein which tells the developing brain when it's time to stop growing. But when the genes are mutated, the brain may continue to grow out of control, leading to cancer.
"Drugs are already being developed that target these types of proteins," he says. "Our hope is that some of these drugs may be adapted and used effectively to treat medulloblastomas." Dr. Taylor is a pediatric brain surgeon at Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children:
In the study, the largest of its kind, researchers looked at more than 200 tumour samples. The samples came from children in countries all over the world including Canada, the US, England, Poland and Saudi Arabia. Paul Northcott, a PhD student in Dr Taylor's lab, analyzed and interpreted all the data over a period of 3 ½ years. "We've learned more from this study about the genetic basis of this disease than from any other previous study," Northcott says. The gene mutations they found had not been suspected as culprits in cancer formation.
About 250 Canadian children are diagnosed with various types of brain cancer every year. About 70 per cent of these survive. Brain tumours are the leading cause of childhood cancer deaths. The most common childhood brain cancer is medulloblastoma – a tumour that occurs at the back of the brain in the cerebellum. It is primarily a disease of very young children and is particularly deadly among babies under 18 months of age. In Canada, about 40 children are diagnosed with medulloblastoma every year and half of these will survive.
Many survivors experience serious physical and neurological problems from the disease itself and from the effects of very aggressive treatments on the developing brain. Treatments include surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.
Source: Canadian Cancer Society
- UBC researchers discover gene mutation that causes eye cancerWed, 10 Dec 2008, 14:36:16 EST
- Cancer researchers link DICER1 gene mutation to rare childhood cancerThu, 25 Jun 2009, 16:37:46 EDT
- Researchers discover gene that is mutated in some blood cancers and predicts better survival Mon, 26 Sep 2011, 19:32:26 EDT
- New gene for childhood cancer neuroblastoma is discoveredWed, 1 Dec 2010, 13:37:42 EST
- Researchers identify gene that spurs deadly brain cancerThu, 3 Dec 2009, 15:22:05 EST
- Medulloblastoma - Gene Mutation For Most Common Childhood Brain Cancer Identifiedfrom Scientific BloggingSun, 8 Mar 2009, 22:21:16 EDT
- Researchers discover gene mutations that cause childhood brain cancerfrom Science BlogSun, 8 Mar 2009, 21:56:57 EDT
- Researchers discover gene mutations that cause childhood brain cancerfrom PhysorgSun, 8 Mar 2009, 17:14:19 EDT
- Researchers discover gene mutations that cause childhood brain cancerfrom Science BlogSun, 8 Mar 2009, 15:56:49 EDT
- Gene Mutations That Cause Childhood Brain Cancer Identifiedfrom Science DailySun, 8 Mar 2009, 15:49:22 EDT
Latest Science NewsletterGet the latest and most popular science news articles of the week in your Inbox! It's free!
Learn more about
Check out our next project, Biology.Net
From other science news sites
Popular science news articles
No popular news yet
- From ocean to land: The fishy origins of our hips
- New method of finding planets scores its first discovery
- Invasive crazy ants are displacing fire ants in areas throughout southeastern US
- Seabird bones reveal changes in open-ocean food chain
- Scientific insurgents say 'Journal Impact Factors' distort science
No popular news yet
No popular news yet
- Stem cell transplant restores memory, learning in mice
- 2 landmark studies report on success of using image-guided brachytherapy to treat cervical cancer
- Researchers discover mushrooms can provide as much vitamin D as supplements
- Cutting back on sleep harms blood vessel function and breathing control
- Study: Low-dose aspirin stymies proliferation of 2 breast cancer lines