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Author Topic: Canadian discovery points way to better treatment of childhood brain cancer  (Read 1470 times)

Offline CareDC

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Canadian researchers have narrowed in on a cause of childhood brain cancer, a discovery they said could one day lead to improved cancer treatments and better quality of life for patients.

Scientists at the Hospital for Sick Children said they have discovered a family of eight genes that are mutated in patients with medulloblastoma — the most common childhood brain cancer.

Dr. Michael Taylor, a SickKids neurosurgeon, said the findings give researchers a starting point in the search for better ways to treat brain tumours.

“Now we’ve got a target,” said Taylor, principal investigator at the hospital’s brain tumour research centre. “We think what this family of eight genes does is it’s responsible for telling the cells when to grow up. When these genes are mutated the particular cell in which the mutation has arose doesn’t stop growing, it keeps going.”

Medulloblastoma occurs in the lower part of the brain and can spread to the spine or other parts of the body. Brain tumours, including medulloblastoma, are the leading cause of childhood cancer-related deaths.

Taylor said scientists analyzed over 200 medulloblastomas that were surgically removed from children and discovered eight of the mutated genes belonged to a family of genes that encode for proteins responsible for turning off growth-promoting genes as the brain develops.

In healthy cells, when the brain is ready to stop growing, a protein is made in the gene that causes the DNA to “wind up tighter,” effectively rendering its information unreadable and the cell stops growing.


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