Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Brain tumors found to have a two-tier system

Date:
August 23, 2011
Source:
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres
Summary:
Scientists have completed the largest ever molecular-biological analysis of ependymoma, a dangerous brain tumor in children. They were able to define two distinct subgroups of ependymoma which differ both genetically and clinically. The researchers will now use these results to gain a better understanding of the causes of ependymoma and to develop more targeted treatment approaches.

Ependymomas are the second most frequent type of malignant brain tumor in children. Ependymoma develops from precursor cells of the tissue that lines the hollow cavities of the brain. Therapy results of ependymoma vary immensely: While in some patients tumor growth comes to a standstill after surgery and radiotherapy, in other children the disease rapidly takes a severe course. In about half of those affected the tumor continues to grow and the patients often succumb to the disease.

Related Articles


„It is the patients with a severe course, in particular, who urgently need better therapies. To this end, we need to understand what makes ependymomas so different in their characteristics," says pediatrician and molecular geneticist Dr. Stefan Pfister, who is a researcher at DKFZ and Heidelberg University Hospitals. Jointly with his colleague, Dr. Hendrik Witt, Pfister and researchers from Canada, the U.S.A., Russia, Poland and Italy are now publishing the results of the largest ever molecular-genetic study of ependymomas of the cerebellum. This is where this type of tumor is most frequently located in children, while in adults ependymoma usually arises in the cerebrum or in the spinal cord.

In 583 tissue samples of ependymomas of the cerebellum, the investigators studied the activity of individual genes and searched the genetic material for losses or gains of whole DNA segments. Two groups of these tumors were first analyzed independently and the results obtained were subsequently validated based on the tissue samples of a third group. In this way, the investigators obtained particularly valuable results.

The large-scale study has yielded clear results: Based on anomalies of their genetic material, ependymomas of the cerebellum can be classified in two distinct subgroups which also differ clinically. Group A ependymomas take an unfavorable course; such tumors often recur after initial surgery and they frequently metastasize, which ultimately leads to the death of many patients. Group A tumors have relatively few losses or gains of gene segments; however, very many genes that play a role in key cancer signaling pathways are activated.

By contrast, tumors of group B have a favorable prognosis, even though the genome of these cancer cells is highly unstable. Typical characteristics are gains of large segments of chromosomes 9, 15, 18 as well as losses of chromosomes 6 and 22.

"The genetic differences between these two types are so marked that we have to speak of two different diseases that may even arise from different original cells," says Stefan Pfister. The Heidelberg researchers will now take a closer look, in particular, at group A ependymomas in order to find out which of the genetic alterations is what is called the driver mutation, i.e. the mutation that causes carcinogenesis. In this way, they hope to identify potential targets for better drugs to specifically fight the more aggressive group A ependymomas. For several signaling pathways that are hyperactive in group A tumors, targeted drugs have already been developed and are currently being tested for other types of cancer in clinical trials. It is possible that some of these substances may be a treatment option for ependymoma as well.

But patients will also benefit from the results of the genome analysis in the near future: Using simple tests, doctors will be able to assign a case to one of the two subgroups and they will thus be in a better position to decide how intensive treatment must be.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Hendrik Witt, StephenC. Mack, Marina Ryzhova, Sebastian Bender, Martin Sill, Ruth Isserlin, Axel Benner, Thomas Hielscher, Till Milde, Marc Remke, DavidT.W. Jones, PaulA. Northcott, Livia Garzia, KelseyC. Bertrand, Andrea Wittmann, Yuan Yao, StephenS. Roberts, Luca Massimi, Tim VanMeter, WilliamA. Weiss, Nalin Gupta, Wiesia Grajkowska, Boleslaw Lach, Yoon-Jae Cho, Andreas vonDeimling, AndreasE. Kulozik, Olaf Witt, GaryD. Bader, CynthiaE. Hawkins, Uri Tabori, Abhijit Guha, JamesT. Rutka, Peter Lichter, Andrey Korshunov, MichaelD. Taylor, StefanM. Pfister. Delineation of Two Clinically and Molecularly Distinct Subgroups of Posterior Fossa Ependymoma. Cancer Cell, 2011; 20 (2): 143 DOI: 10.1016/j.ccr.2011.07.007

Cite This Page:

Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres. "Brain tumors found to have a two-tier system." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 August 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110823104913.htm>.
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres. (2011, August 23). Brain tumors found to have a two-tier system. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110823104913.htm
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres. "Brain tumors found to have a two-tier system." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110823104913.htm (accessed December 18, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Kids Die While Under Protective Services

Kids Die While Under Protective Services

AP (Dec. 18, 2014) As part of a six-month investigation of child maltreatment deaths, the AP found that hundreds of deaths from horrific abuse and neglect could have been prevented. AP's Haven Daley reports. (Dec. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
UN: Up to One Million Facing Hunger in Ebola-Hit Countries

UN: Up to One Million Facing Hunger in Ebola-Hit Countries

AFP (Dec. 17, 2014) Border closures, quarantines and crop losses in West African nations battling the Ebola virus could lead to as many as one million people going hungry, UN food agencies said on Wednesday. Duration: 00:52 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Can fat disappear into thin air? New research finds that during weight loss, over 80 percent of a person's fat molecules escape through the lungs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Why Your Boss Should Let You Sleep In

Why Your Boss Should Let You Sleep In

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) According to research out of the University of Pennsylvania, waking up for work is the biggest factor that causes Americans to lose sleep. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins