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Gene signatures give brain cancer clue

A study from Institute of Cancer Research, London researchers, published in journal PLoS One, substantially increases our understanding of glioma – which has one of the worst prognoses of any cancer.

Genes can be up-regulated to produce more of their protein product, a very complex process which can contribute to cancer. In the study, a team led by Dr Chris Jones looked in detail at three genes, called PDGFRAKIT, andVEGFR2, all known to be involved in glioma.

Using techniques at the cutting edge of current genetic research, they looked at levels of up-regulation of the genes using samples from 342 different glioblastomas – a type of glioma tumour.

They found that three different gene signatures gave rise to three very distinct types of glioblastoma – each with different appearances and even symptoms.

The results could help show the way for other researchers to develop targeted treatments for different types of glioblastoma. When taken in combination with another recent study also co-authored by Dr Jones – also published in journal PLoS One – they show how targeting more than one gene at the same time with a mixture of different targeted treatments could be a promising approach in glioma treatment.

Dr Chris Jones, leader of the glioma team at The Institute of Cancer Research, said:

“Glioma tumours are one of the most genetically diverse in all of cancer biology – a feature which helps them evade treatments, and means glioma has one of the worst outlooks for patients of all cancers.

“Our study has helped to shine a light on some of the processes that drive glioma’s extraordinary genetic diversity, pinpointing three different activation signatures at play in three sub-types of glioblastoma. It provides clues about how we might be able to treat this cancer more effectively in the future.”

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