Genetic markers uncovered for rare children's brain tumor

Central nervous system primitive neuroectodermal brain tumors (CNS PNET for short) are a particularly rare but nasty form of cancer that leaves patients with a poor prognosis, particularly when very young children are stricken. But scientists at The University of Nottingham in the U.K. have identified genetic markers that they think will lead to vital new diagnostics for the condition.

While that advance may be a long way into the future, the researchers believe that those eventual diagnostics could help researchers improve the kinds of drugs and therapies on hand to treat the cancer. While such advances are likely many years away, more treatment options for CNS PNET are long overdue. The researchers note that high-dose chemotherapy and cranio-spinal radiotherapy are two of the primary options at hand right now, but they often don't work and leave patients with long-term side effects.

Details are published in the latest journal Lancet Oncology.

In collaboration with the Hospital for Sick Kids in Toronto, they conducted their study using 142 samples of CNS PNET collected from 20 different institutions in 9 countries, with a focus on the tumor genetics. Their discovery: The tumors have three subtypes--each with particular genetic mutations that give patients different outcomes. And each group had a separate genetic signature based on variations in the way they expressed the LIN28 and OLIG2 genetic markers.

- read the release
- check out the journal article summary