Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Mutation discovery may improve treatment for rare brain tumor type

13.01.2014
Study findings could lead to targeted therapies for hard-to-treat craniopharyngiomas

Scientists have identified a mutated gene that causes a type of tenacious, benign brain tumor that can have devastating lifelong effects. Currently, the tumor can only be treated with challenging repeated surgeries and radiation.

The discovery, reported in Nature Genetics, is encouraging, because it may be possible to attack the tumors with targeted drugs already in use for other kinds of tumors, said the investigators from Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, Massachusetts General Hospital, and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard.

The mutated gene, known as BRAF, was found in almost all samples of tumors called papillary craniopharyngiomas. This is one of two types of craniopharyngiomas—the other being adamantinomatous—that develop in the base of the brain near the pituitary gland, hypothalamus, and optic nerves. The papillary craniopharyngiomas occur mainly in adults; adamantinomatous tumors generally affect children.

The researchers identified a different mutant gene that drives the tumors in children. Drugs that target these adamantinomatous tumors are not yet clinically available, but may be in the future, said the researchers.

"From a clinical perspective, identifying the BRAF mutation in the papillary tumors is really wonderful, because we have drugs that get into the brain and inhibit this pathway," said Sandro Santagata, MD, PhD, a co-senior author of the paper. "Previously, there were no medical treatments—only surgery and radiation—and now we may be able to go from this discovery right to a well-established drug therapy." BRAF inhibitors are currently used in treating malignant melanoma when that mutation is present.

Priscilla Brastianos, MD, co-first author of the study, and Santagata said plans are underway to design a multicenter clinical trial to investigate the efficacy of a BRAF inhibitor in patients with papillary craniopharyngiomas.

Craniopharyngiomas occur in less than one in 100,000 people. They are slow-growing tumors that don't metastasize, but they can cause severe complications, including headaches, visual impairment, hormonal imbalances, obesity and short stature. Even with expert neurosurgery, it is difficult to completely remove the tumors without damaging normal structures, and the tumors often recur.

The investigators were surprised to find that the single mutated BRAF gene was the sole driver of 95 percent of the papillary craniopharyngiomas they analyzed with whole-exome DNA sequencing. "We were really surprised to find that something as simple as a BRAF mutation by itself, rather than multiple mutations, is what drives these tumors," said Santagata.

One scenario, should the inhibitors prove successful in halting or reversing growth of the tumors, would be to test the drugs preoperatively with the aim of shrinking the tumor so less radical surgery would be needed, said Santagata.

A different mutation, in a gene called CTNNB1, was identified as the principal abnormality in the pediatric tumors, according to the report. This mutation causes overactivity in the beta-catenin molecular growth-signaling pathway. Unlike with the BRAF mutation, drugs that inhibit the CTNNB1 abnormality have not yet reached the clinic, but several groups are working on them, Santagata said.

Santagata, a pathologist, is affiliated with Dana-Farber/Boston Children's, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School (HMS). Co-senior authors of the study are Mark Kieran, MD, PhD, of Dana-Farber/Boston Children's and HMS; and Gad Getz, PhD, of the Broad Institute, Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and HMS.

The study has three co-first authors: Brastianos of MGH, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, HMS and the Broad; Amaro Taylor-Weiner of the Broad; and Peter Manley, MD, of Dana-Farber/Boston Children's.

The research was supported by Pedals for Pediatrics and the Clark family.

The Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center brings together two internationally known research and teaching institutions that have provided comprehensive care for pediatric oncology and hematology patients since 1947. The Harvard Medical School affiliates share a clinical staff that delivers inpatient care at Boston Children's Hospital and outpatient care at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute's Jimmy Fund Clinic. Dana-Farber/Boston Children's brings the results of its pioneering research and clinical trials to patients' bedsides through five clinical centers: the Blood Disorders Center, the Brain Tumor Center, the Hematologic Malignancies Center, the Solid Tumors Center, and the Stem Cell Transplant Center.

Irene Sege | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.dana-farber.org/

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht New Model of T Cell Activation
27.05.2016 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

nachricht Fungi – a promising source of chemical diversity
27.05.2016 | Leibniz-Institut für Naturstoff-Forschung und Infektionsbiologie - Hans-Knöll-Institut (HKI)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Worldwide Success of Tyrolean Wastewater Treatment Technology

A biological and energy-efficient process, developed and patented by the University of Innsbruck, converts nitrogen compounds in wastewater treatment facilities into harmless atmospheric nitrogen gas. This innovative technology is now being refined and marketed jointly with the United States’ DC Water and Sewer Authority (DC Water). The largest DEMON®-system in a wastewater treatment plant is currently being built in Washington, DC.

The DEMON®-system was developed and patented by the University of Innsbruck 11 years ago. Today this successful technology has been implemented in about 70...

Im Focus: Computational high-throughput screening finds hard magnets containing less rare earth elements

Permanent magnets are very important for technologies of the future like electromobility and renewable energy, and rare earth elements (REE) are necessary for their manufacture. The Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials IWM in Freiburg, Germany, has now succeeded in identifying promising approaches and materials for new permanent magnets through use of an in-house simulation process based on high-throughput screening (HTS). The team was able to improve magnetic properties this way and at the same time replaced REE with elements that are less expensive and readily available. The results were published in the online technical journal “Scientific Reports”.

The starting point for IWM researchers Wolfgang Körner, Georg Krugel, and Christian Elsässer was a neodymium-iron-nitrogen compound based on a type of...

Im Focus: Atomic precision: technologies for the next-but-one generation of microchips

In the Beyond EUV project, the Fraunhofer Institutes for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen and for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering IOF in Jena are developing key technologies for the manufacture of a new generation of microchips using EUV radiation at a wavelength of 6.7 nm. The resulting structures are barely thicker than single atoms, and they make it possible to produce extremely integrated circuits for such items as wearables or mind-controlled prosthetic limbs.

In 1965 Gordon Moore formulated the law that came to be named after him, which states that the complexity of integrated circuits doubles every one to two...

Im Focus: Researchers demonstrate size quantization of Dirac fermions in graphene

Characterization of high-quality material reveals important details relevant to next generation nanoelectronic devices

Quantum mechanics is the field of physics governing the behavior of things on atomic scales, where things work very differently from our everyday world.

Im Focus: Graphene: A quantum of current

When current comes in discrete packages: Viennese scientists unravel the quantum properties of the carbon material graphene

In 2010 the Nobel Prize in physics was awarded for the discovery of the exceptional material graphene, which consists of a single layer of carbon atoms...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Networking 4.0: International Laser Technology Congress AKL’16 Shows New Ways of Cooperations

24.05.2016 | Event News

Challenges of rural labor markets

20.05.2016 | Event News

International expert meeting “Health Business Connect” in France

19.05.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

11 million Euros for research into magnetic field sensors for medical diagnostics

27.05.2016 | Awards Funding

Fungi – a promising source of chemical diversity

27.05.2016 | Life Sciences

New Model of T Cell Activation

27.05.2016 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>