Study finds biological clue in brain tumour development

March 18, 2009

( -- Scientists at The University of Nottingham have uncovered a vital new biological clue that could lead to more effective treatments for a children's brain tumour that currently kills more than 60 per cent of young sufferers.

Clinician -scientists at the University's Children's Tumour Research Centre, working on behalf of the Children's Cancer and Group (CCLG), have studied the role of the WNT biological pathway in central nervous system primitive neuroectodermal tumours (CNS PNET), a type of that predominantly occurs in children and presently has a very poor prognosis.

In a paper published in the , they have shown that in over one-third of cases, the pathway is 'activated', suggesting that it plays a role in tumour development. The research also highlighted a link between WNT and patient survival — patients who had a CNS PNET tumour that was activated survived for longer than those without pathway activation.

The reason for the link between WNT pathway activation and better is as yet unclear. It could be that these tumours represent a less aggressive subset or that pathway activation itself actually harms the tumour. However, the pathway could represent an important new target for the treatment of more effective drugs, with fewer side effects.

Senior author Professor Richard Grundy, from the Children's Brain Tumour Research Centre, said: “The principal aim of our research is to reduce the morbidity and mortality of children with central nervous system tumours through improved understanding of tumour biology. Following on from this, we need to translate this knowledge into effective new treatments for brain tumours through the development and assessment of accurately targeted treatments that will cause fewer side effects than conventional or radiotherapy and be more effective. The ultimate aim is to develop 'drugs' that target just the abnormal genes in cancer cells, rather than the current norm which involves the indiscriminate destruction of dividing cells which might be healthy or malignant. Overall, this is an important finding in a poorly understood, poor prognosis disease, which we hope, in time, will lead to the development of new treatments for CNS PNETs.

“We hope our findings will lead to a more detailed understanding of CNS PNETS, which is crucial if we are to ensure each child receives the most appropriate treatment for their disease and that we reduce the number of children in which their cancer recurs.”

In total, around 450 children and young adults under 18 years are diagnosed with a brain tumour each year in the UK. Overall, 60 per cent of children with the cancer in the UK can be successfully treated, but survival for CNS PNETs is less than 40 per cent.

More information:

Provided by University of Nottingham (news : web)

Explore further: Chemists turn to gel to ease side-effects of cancer treatment

Related Stories

Chemists turn to gel to ease side-effects of cancer treatment

November 8, 2005

Three young scientists in the University of York’s Department of Chemistry have developed a gel that could spare cancer patients some of the unpleasant and dangerous side-effects of radiotherapy. PhD students Andrew Wilson ...

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

( -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Mar 19, 2009
Less than 40% is UNACCEPTABLE! Treatment needs revision! Modified Cyroablation should be considered!

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.