Dr. Jeffrey Bruce and a multidisciplinary team from Columbia University, including neurosurgery resident Dr. Adam Sonabend, have published a paper on the genetics of a specific type of brain tumor called a proneural glioma.
Gliomas arise from glial cells in the brain and make up about a third of all brain tumors. There are different kinds, some malignant and some not, of gliomas depending on the type of glial cells they derive from.
Of all the gliomas, proneural (or nerve-cell generating) gliomas are the most common type to present as low-grade tumors and then progress to high-grade glioblastomas,a glioma that is one of the most deadly of all brain tumors.
Hundreds of genes and specific gene alterations play a role in the formation of proneural gliomas and their progression toward glioblastomas. Understanding these processes is a major focus in the field of cancer research right now.
In a paper published last month in Cancer Research (Sonabend et al.), Dr. Bruce and his colleagues described a network of just a few genes that act as master regulators of proneural gliomas. These few genes, including one called p53, orchestrate the expression of hundreds of other genes that can turn this benign tumor into a malignant one. Specifically, they found that deleting the p53 gene prevented the usual genetic alterations seen in the progression of these tumors.
According to the authors, “These findings show how the course of tumor progression can be directed by early intervention. Identifying the forces and constraints that influence tumor evolution raises the possibility of new therapies to drive this process into a more benign path, especially for brain tumors diagnosed early in their course.”
This important finding offers new hope for the future of brain cancer treatment and moves us one step closer to curing this deadly disease.
Their paper, The Transcriptional Regulatory Network of Proneural Glioma Determines the Genetic Alterations Selected During Tumor Progression is published in the January 2014 issue of the journal Cancer Research.
Read more about this research online here or in Cancer Res. 2014 Jan 3. [Epub ahead of print].
*Co-authors of this paper include: Sonabend AM, Bansal M, Guarnieri P, Lei L, Amendolara B, Soderquist C, Leung R, Yun J, Kennedy B, Sisti J, Bruce S, Bruce R, Shakya R, Ludwig T, Rosenfeld S, Sims PA, Bruce JN, Califano A, Canoll P.
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