Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


A single gene separates aggressive and non-aggressive lymphatic system cancer


For a rare form of cancer called thymoma, researchers have discovered a single gene defining the difference between a fast-growing tumor requiring aggressive treatment and a slow-growing tumor that doesn't require extensive therapy.

Thymoma is a cancer derived from the epithelial cells of the thymus, an organ critical to the lymphatic system where T-cells, or so-called "killer cells," mature. Very little is known about the role of the gene mutation GTF2l in human tumors, but scientists from Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center and the National Cancer Institute say almost all indolent (slow growing and non-aggressive) forms of thymoma they tested have the mutation. They report their finding in the ?? issue of Nature Genetics.

"Indolent thymomas seldom become aggressive, so the discovery that a single gene can identify tumors that do not need aggressive care is an important development for our patients," says the study's senior investigator, Giuseppe Giaccone, MD, PhD, associate director for clinical research at Georgetown Lombardi.

In addition to the clinical implications, the study is important because "it is highly unusual to find a single mutated gene that can define a class of tumors," he said. "Usually a substantial number of genes are involved. In fact, we also found that the more aggressive thymomas express well-known cancer genes found in other tumors — which might give us clues about novel treatment of these cancers."

The thymus is located in the chest behind the breastbone. Thymoma and a second type of cancer of the thymus called thymic carcinoma are rare. According to the National Cancer Institute, these cancers counted together make up for only .2 to 1.5 percent of all cancers— one case occurs in about every 700,000 individuals.

Most of the diagnosed patients have surgery, but, depending on the presumed aggressiveness of the cancer, some patients will have radiation and/or chemotherapy in addition or instead of surgery. "The use of these treatments in thymomas is controversial, because we know some patients don't need aggressive therapy, but until now, there's not been a clear way to know who those patients are," Giaccone says.


Co-authors include: In-Kyu Kim, Kang-Seo Park, Sivanesan Dakshanamurthy and Yisong Wang from Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center; Iacopo Petrini, Paul S Meltzer, James Gao, Robert L. Walker, Marbin Pineda, Yuelin J Zhu, Christopher Lau, Keith J. Killian, Sven Bilke, Donna Voeller and Jaime Rodriguez-Canales from the National Cancer Institute; Marco Lucchi and Gabriella Fontanini from Pisa University Hospital, Pisa, Italy; Paolo A Zucali from Humanitas Clinical and Research Center, Milan, Italy; and Fiorella Calabrese, Adolfo Favaretto and Federico Rea from Padua University Hospital, Padua, Italy.

The study was supported by the National Cancer Institute intramural research program and Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center. The National Cancer Institute has filed a patent application on the technology described in this paper. Giaccone, Wang and Petrini are inventors on the patent.

About Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center

Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, part of Georgetown University Medical Center and MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, seeks to improve the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of cancer through innovative basic and clinical research, patient care, community education and outreach, and the training of cancer specialists of the future. Georgetown Lombardi is one of only 41 comprehensive cancer centers in the nation, as designated by the National Cancer Institute (grant #P30 CA051008), and the only one in the Washington, DC area. For more information, go to

About Georgetown University Medical Center

Georgetown University Medical Center is an internationally recognized academic medical center with a three-part mission of research, teaching and patient care (through MedStar Health). GUMC's mission is carried out with a strong emphasis on public service and a dedication to the Catholic, Jesuit principle of cura personalis – or "care of the whole person." The Medical Center includes the School of Medicine and the School of Nursing & Health Studies, both nationally ranked; Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, designated as a comprehensive cancer center by the National Cancer Institute; and the Biomedical Graduate Research Organization (BGRO), which accounts for the majority of externally funded research at GUMC including a Clinical and Translational Science Award from the National Institutes of Health.

Karen Teber | Eurek Alert!

Further reports about: MedStar aggressive lymphatic surgery thymic carcinoma tumors

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Space observation with radar to secure Germany's space infrastructure

Satellites in near-Earth orbit are at risk due to the steady increase in space debris. But their mission in the areas of telecommunications, navigation or weather forecasts is essential for society. Fraunhofer FHR therefore develops radar-based systems which allow the detection, tracking and cataloging of even the smallest particles of debris. Satellite operators who have access to our data are in a better position to plan evasive maneuvers and prevent destructive collisions. From April, 25-29 2018, Fraunhofer FHR and its partners will exhibit the complementary radar systems TIRA and GESTRA as well as the latest radar techniques for space observation across three stands at the ILA Berlin.

The "traffic situation" in space is very tense: the Earth is currently being orbited not only by countless satellites but also by a large volume of space...

Im Focus: Researchers Discover New Anti-Cancer Protein

An international team of researchers has discovered a new anti-cancer protein. The protein, called LHPP, prevents the uncontrolled proliferation of cancer cells in the liver. The researchers led by Prof. Michael N. Hall from the Biozentrum, University of Basel, report in “Nature” that LHPP can also serve as a biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of liver cancer.

The incidence of liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma, is steadily increasing. In the last twenty years, the number of cases has almost doubled...

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

New solar solutions for sustainable buildings and cities

23.03.2018 | Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

For graphite pellets, just add elbow grease

23.03.2018 | Materials Sciences

Unique communication strategy discovered in stem cell pathway controlling plant growth

23.03.2018 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

Sharpening the X-ray view of the nanocosm

23.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>