For glioma, it's all in the letters

Just a single change in one letter in the genetic code could make all the difference when it comes to the outcomes of certain types of glioma. According to a team of U.S. researchers publishing in Nature Genetics, these types of cancer make up around a fifth of all new brain cancers diagnosed annually in the U.S.

Using next-generation sequencing, the researchers found 7 SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms; single changes in letters of the code) that could link with types of glioma. One of these was a change from A to G, which increased the chance that the patient had a slower-growing form of the tumor, and a much better chance of survival.

"Being able to tell people that the mass in their brain is this type of tumor is actually good news, because it has a much better prognosis than other brain tumors," says Dr. Robert Jenkins at the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center.

While this is very early-stage research, it could lead to blood tests that determine what subtype of cancer patients with abnormal scans have, ultimately helping doctors decide on the best course of treatment.

- read the press release
- check out the abstract

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