Researchers follow brain tumor DNA through bloodstream in hunt for biomarkers

Glioblastoma multiforme, a malignant brain tumor, is frustratingly elusive because it can appear in many forms. Each tumor is different. That makes it extremely difficult to track its progress and identify targets for therapies. A team of researchers from the University of Cincinnati hope to shine a light on the brain tumor's multiple personalities by sequencing individual glioblastoma genomes and tracking abnormalities through the bloodstream, the university announced in a news release. That way, they could establish biomarkers to guide treatment and to find new targets.

"Glioblastoma tumors show some similarities under the microscope," UC researcher Olivier Rixe said in a statement. "But when we go deeper and deeper, we see some significant differences, especially in the DNA and chromosomes. So there is no one single glioblastoma. Each tumor is different."

While genome sequencing has already been done for glioblastoma multiforme, what makes the Cincinnati study different is its mission to identify genetic abnormalities in individual tumors and then follow them through the bloodstream. Also, it is studies like this one that make "personalized medicine" possible.

"There will be some circulating DNA in the blood coming from the tumor, and we will follow those very specific abnormalities," Rixe said. "It is very much a personalized study, because we are not talking about the genetic abnormalities of other patients. We are talking about the sequencing of a biopsy of a specific individual's tumor. And we are talking about tracking individualized, personalized abnormalities."

- read the release from the University of Cincinnati