New drug target ID'd for aggressive cases of brain cancer

Mutations in the TCF12 gene, which plays a big role in developing brains in the embryo, has been tied to an aggressive form of brain cancer.

Working with labs on the continent, researchers at The Institute of Cancer Research in London studied the genetic sequences of 134 samples of anaplastic oligodendroglioma. Errors in the TCF12 gene were tied to 7.5% of the cases, they say, adding that this subgroup suffered from a particularly virulent form of the brain cancer. The work was published in the journal Nature Communications.

The protein is a gene regulator and the mutations made it less able to bind to DNA, interfering with its control of those other genes. One of the genes, CHD1, is already linked to the spread of cancer.

"Our in-depth study has set out many of the genetic defects that cause this rare but highly aggressive form of brain cancer--including identifying a gene mutation that appears in particularly fast-growing forms," says Richard Houlston. "Anaplastic oligodendrogliomas are difficult to remove by surgery and don't respond well to other forms of treatment. We hope this new information might be used to discover new targeted therapies, offering patients a better chance at survival from this aggressive cancer."

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