Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Customized gene chip provides rapid detection of genetic changes in children’s cancer


Microarray scans DNA regions in neuroblastoma tumors to forecast outcomes, guide treatments

Genetics researchers have developed a customized gene chip to rapidly scan tumor samples for specific DNA changes that offer clues to prognosis in cases of neuroblastoma, a common form of children’s cancer. Rather than covering the entire genome, the microarray focuses on suspect regions of chromosomes for signs of deleted genetic material known to play a role in the cancer.

The investigators, from The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Thomas Jefferson University, say their technique may be readily adapted for other types of cancer. The proof-of-principle study appears in the August issue of Genome Research.

One advantage of their technique is its flexibility, said co-author John M. Maris, M.D., a pediatric oncologist at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. "As future research identifies other genes active in neuroblastoma, we can modify the microarray to include such regions," he added.

"We have customized this tool for neuroblastoma, but the approach might also be adapted to other types of cancer in which DNA changes are important," said co-author Paolo Fortina, M.D., Ph.D., professor of medicine at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia and section chief, Genomics and Diagnostics, in the Jefferson Department of Medicine’s Center for Translational Medicine.

The most common cancer found in infants, neuroblastoma strikes the peripheral nervous system, often appearing as a solid tumor in a child’s chest or abdomen. Some types of neuroblastoma are low risk, resolving after surgeons remove the tumor, while others are much more aggressive. Identifying the correct risk level allows doctors to treat aggressive cancers appropriately, while not subjecting children with low-risk cancer to overtreatment.

Cancer researchers have pinpointed specific genetic abnormalities that influence the aggressiveness of neuroblastoma. An important abnormality is loss of heterozygosity (LOH), the deletion of one copy of a pair of genes. When the gene involved is a tumor suppressor gene, LOH removes a brake on uncontrolled cell growth, the growth that is the hallmark of cancer.

Researchers in Dr. Maris’ laboratory previously established that LOH in a region of chromosome 11 allows aggressive neuroblastoma to take hold. The new microarray can detect such gene defects on chromosome 11 and other genetic regions implicated in neuroblastoma.

Microarrays are silicon chips that contain tightly ordered selections of genetic material upon which sample material can be tested. When DNA bases from a sample bind to complementary sequences on the microarray, they cause fluorescent tags to shine under laser light. This is a signal that a particular gene variation is present in the sample.

"We can test DNA from peripheral blood and from the tumor, and we should see a loss of signal in the cancer," said Dr. Fortina. He noted that the researchers can simultaneously evaluate seven chromosomal regions known to be involved in neuroblastoma.

Unlike gene expression microarrays, which detect varying levels of RNA to measure the activity levels of different genes as DNA transfers information to RNA, the current microarray directly identifies changes in DNA. "These DNA changes, involving gain or loss of genetic material, are important for neuroblastoma prognosis," said Dr. Maris.

In pinpointing specific regions of chromosomes with loss in DNA, the technology may help confirm a clinical diagnosis, said Saul Surrey, Ph.D., professor of medicine and Associate Director of Research at the Cardeza Foundation for Hematologic Research and the Division of Hematology at Jefferson Medical College. If a clinical diagnosis isn’t known, the method might provide some clues.

The microarrray described in the paper has only been used in their laboratory study, but the researchers hope that with further study it may become more widely available as a diagnostic tool for oncologists treating patients with neuroblastoma, and possibly for other cancers.

In addition to Drs. Maris, Fortina, and Surrey, other co-authors are George Hii, Peter S. White, Ph.D., and Eric Rappaport, Ph.D., of The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; and Craig A. Gelfand, Ph.D., and Shobha Varde, M.S., of Orchid Biosciences, Princeton, N.J. Grants from the National Institutes of Health and the Children’s Oncology Group supported the work.

John Ascenzi | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Novel mechanisms of action discovered for the skin cancer medication Imiquimod
21.10.2016 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Second research flight into zero gravity
21.10.2016 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>