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17 Jul 2009
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Genetic Link Found To Glioblastoma
Same Cancer Type That Afflicts Sen. Kennedy
POSTED: 5:09 pm EDT July 14, 2009
UPDATED: 5:50 pm EDT July 14, 2009
BOSTON -- Two studies released in Tuesday's Journal of the American Medical Association claim to have identified seven genes linked to glioblastomas -- a particularly deadly form of brain cancer.It's believed to be the form of brain cancer with which Sen. Edward Kennedy was diagnosed in May 2008.The study's authors said that after reviewing data from more than 500 glioblastoma patients, they have pinpointed the gene mutations most responsible for allowing brain tumors to grow."The needle in a haystack is a very good analogy in that the whole haystack would represent the glioblastoma genome," said Dr. Markus Bredel of Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, who led the research. "And we would know that there would be a couple of needles in that haystack that would be important."There have been few, if any, medical advances in the treatment of gliomas in recent decades. There is no known cure, and statistics show that only 7 percent of patients will survive more than three years.A gene that researchers believe would suppress the growth of tumors is missing in 75 percent of patients studied. That absence could allow other, more aggressive genes that fuel cancer to take over."We were able to predict the survival of glioblastoma patients...indicating to us that this gene is not only important to the biology of the tumors, but immediately impacts the survival and the outcome of the patient," said Bredel.P.J Lukac is a glioblastoma patient who is working as a researcher with Bredel. He said he's confident this genetic discovery could lead to more effective treatments for glioblastoma patients."I think in my lifetime we will see glioblastoma become a chronic and manageable disease," said Lukac.It is unclear how long it could take to translate the findings published in JAMA to new therapies.
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