Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Hope for children with previously incurable brain cancer

Date:
April 7, 2014
Source:
University of Toronto
Summary:
Potential treatment targets for a previously incurable form of pediatric brain cancer called Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma has been revealed by scientists. The researchers believe that this discovery could lead to better treatment. "We're hoping that by having a better genetic characterization of these cancers we can try to better target these tumors and provide a personalized approach to treatment," one expert noted.

Imagine the anguish of a parent whose child is diagnosed with an incurable form of childhood brain cancer. Surgery is not an option, current chemotherapy is ineffective and focal radiation only provides temporary relief. Remarkably, researchers from the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology (LMP) have defined potential treatment targets for this relatively common cancer -- providing hope for future patients.

In this groundbreaking research published in Nature Genetics, LMP Professor Cynthia Hawkins, a Scientist and Neuropathologist at The Hospital for Sick Children, along with PhD candidates Pawel Buczkowicz and Patricia Rakopoulos, identified three subgroups of DIPG, each having distinct molecular features.

"In the past, DIPGs were considered one disease and were assumed to be similar to adult brain tumors. For this reason, the treatments that were given to adults were also given to children -- but these treatments were ineffective," said Buczkowicz. By studying the differences between these tumors, the team can now investigate potential treatments.

DIPGs are known as one of the most challenging tumors to treat because cancer cells are intimately intermingled with normal brain cells in a part of the brain that cannot be surgically resected. They are most commonly diagnosed in children between the ages of 5 and 9 and account for 10 to 15 percent of all pediatric central nervous system tumors.

Previously, doctors used MRI or CT scans to diagnose and study DIPGs, but the information obtained was limited. In addition, it was difficult to study these tumors because they were rarely biopsied and tissue samples were rare. Prof. Hawkins began an autopsy-based study to gain a comprehensive molecular and histological perspective of the disease.

"I think what's interesting about combining whole genome analysis and histopathology is that we can study the tumor at multiple levels," said co-author Rakopoulos. "We're able to see at the molecular level down to a single nucleotide and then we have the view from the very top. It's important to have as many perspectives as possible."

The team discovered that DIPGs could be more accurately classified into three subgroups: H3-K27M, Silent and MYCN. They also revealed a new recurrent activating mutation in the activin receptor ACVR1. With these breakthroughs, they can now investigate potential therapeutics that will target these subgroups.

Prof. Hawkins believes that this discovery could lead to better treatment. "We're hoping that by having a better genetic characterization of these cancers we can try to better target these tumors and provide a personalized approach to treatment. The ideal is always that we're going to find something that will zap all of the tumor cells and we're going to find a cure. But probably a more realistic interim goal is that we can at least slow it down."

Phase I clinical trials for DIPG could potentially begin within a year.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Toronto. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Pawel Buczkowicz, Christine Hoeman, Patricia Rakopoulos, Sanja Pajovic, Louis Letourneau, Misko Dzamba, Andrew Morrison, Peter Lewis, Eric Bouffet, Ute Bartels, Jennifer Zuccaro, Sameer Agnihotri, Scott Ryall, Mark Barszczyk, Yevgen Chornenkyy, Mathieu Bourgey, Guillaume Bourque, Alexandre Montpetit, Francisco Cordero, Pedro Castelo-Branco, Joshua Mangerel, Uri Tabori, King Ching Ho, Annie Huang, Kathryn R Taylor, Alan Mackay, Anne E Bendel, Javad Nazarian, Jason R Fangusaro, Matthias A Karajannis, David Zagzag, Nicholas K Foreman, Andrew Donson, Julia V Hegert, Amy Smith, Jennifer Chan, Lucy Lafay-Cousin, Sandra Dunn, Juliette Hukin, Chris Dunham, Katrin Scheinemann, Jean Michaud, Shayna Zelcer, David Ramsay, Jason Cain, Cameron Brennan, Mark M Souweidane, Chris Jones, C David Allis, Michael Brudno, Oren Becher, Cynthia Hawkins. Genomic analysis of diffuse intrinsic pontine gliomas identifies three molecular subgroups and recurrent activating ACVR1 mutations. Nature Genetics, 2014; DOI: 10.1038/ng.2936

Cite This Page:

University of Toronto. "Hope for children with previously incurable brain cancer." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 April 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140407113353.htm>.
University of Toronto. (2014, April 7). Hope for children with previously incurable brain cancer. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140407113353.htm
University of Toronto. "Hope for children with previously incurable brain cancer." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140407113353.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 30, 2014) Obamacare-related costs were said to be behind the profit plunge at Wellpoint and Humana, but Wellpoint sees the new exchanges boosting its earnings for the full year. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Peace Corps Pulls Workers From W. Africa Over Ebola Fears

Peace Corps Pulls Workers From W. Africa Over Ebola Fears

Newsy (July 30, 2014) The Peace Corps is one of several U.S.-based organizations to pull workers out of West Africa because of the Ebola outbreak. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Weather Kills 2K A Year, But Storms Aren't The Main Offender

Weather Kills 2K A Year, But Storms Aren't The Main Offender

Newsy (July 30, 2014) Health officials say 2,000 deaths occur each year in the U.S. due to weather, but it's excessive heat and cold that claim the most lives. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

AFP (July 30, 2014) Pan-African airline ASKY has suspended all flights to and from the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone amid the worsening Ebola health crisis, which has so far caused 672 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Duration: 00:43 Video provided by AFP
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:
from the past week

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