Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists identify new drivers of rare cancer type

27.05.2016

Cancer researchers from the Würzburg University, in cooperation with the international Cancer Genome Atlas Research Network, have identified new genetic drivers of adrenal cancer. Würzburg was the center of coordination of the European scientists.

Research teams from 39 institutions in Europe, Northern America, Southern America and Australia have collected and examined 91 adrenal cancer samples. They have performed a comprehensive genomic analysis as part of the renowned "Cancer Genome Atlas Research Network". The results were published by the scientists in the journal "Cancer Cell". The study names several new genes that lead to the development of cancer.


Section of adrenal cancer tissue under a microscope. The blue areas are the cell nuclei, and the cytoplasm is stained purple.

Figure: University Hospital Würzburg

Twofold increase of known genetic drivers

The study names several new genes that lead to the development of cancer. Actually the study resulted in doubling the number of known genetic drivers.

"These data have implications for the diagnosis and prognosis of adrenal cancer. They allow us to look deep into the biology of the disease and to understand how these new gene mutations contribute to adrenal tumor formation and the progression of the disease", says Professor Martin Fassnacht, Head of Endocrinology at the Würzburg University Hospital and European coordinator of the study.

Collaboration was the key to this project. Adrenal cancer affects only an average of two in every million people worldwide per year. Because it is so rare, one institution just won't see enough patients to generate meaningful research. "We've been working on building adrenal cancer networks since 2003", says Professor Fastnacht.

In 2003, the Center of Endocrinology and Diabetology of the Würzburg University Hospital initiated the creation of the German Adrenocortical Carcinoma Registry, which was integrated into the first European Network for the Study of Adrenal Tumors in 2009. That is why the Würzburg team and their European partners signed on immediately when the Cancer Genome Atlas Research Network announced the investigation of adrenal cancer as its first project on rare types of cancer.

A new understanding

The study revealed several interesting findings, says Dr. Silviu Sbiera, one of the participating scientific hormone researchers from Würzburg. One of the most exciting mutations was found in gene "ZNRF3". Up to 20 percent of the adrenal cancer samples examined have a mutation of this gene.

Furthermore, the study demonstrated that mutations that were involved in benign diseases of the adrenal cortex may play a role in the development of adrenal cancer.

Another key finding was that many adrenal tumors undergo whole genome doubling: "A phenomenon in which each chromosome in the gene replicates and creates a second copy", says Dr. Sbiera. This reflects instability of the cancer genome, which is particularly prominent in adrenal cancer.

"If we understand the mechanisms of how it happens , this will ultimately help us discover new therapies", says Martin Fassnacht, who leads further clinical studies on adrenocortical carcinoma.

Future treatment advances

The researchers identified three different subtypes of adrenal cancer based on their molecular changes. These subtypes were associated with different survival rates of patients, which suggests that molecular biomarkers could be used to identify patients who are likely to have a more aggressive form of the disease. These patients may thus benefit from a more precisely matched therapy.

"Our findings represent the most complete characterization of adrenal cancer tissues and could be the key to a more successful therapy", says Dr. Sbiera.

"Open Source" results

The complete data set from this project is published in freely accessible databases, so that they are available to any researcher worldwide for identifing potential new ideas to better understand this type of cancer.

The "open source concept" is especially important for adrenal cancer specialists. Adrenal cancer survival rates are dismal because it is often diagnosed in late stages of the disease. Also, no new treatment options have been developed since the 1970s because the disease is so rare.

"We are very motivated to continue our research on the basis of these new findings, because they have an enormous potential. The conclusions drawn from this paper will help fuel discovery in adrenal cancer as well as in other types of cancer," Fassnacht says.

"Comprehensive Pan-Genomic Characterization of Adrenocortical Carcinoma" by Zheng S, Cherniack AD, Dewal N, Moffitt RA, Danilova L, Murray BA, Lerario AM, Else T, Knijnenburg TA, Ciriello G, Kim S, Assie G, Morozova O, Akbani R, Shih J, Hoadley KA, Choueiri TK, Waldmann J, Mete O, Robertson AG, Wu HT, Raphael BJ17, Shao L, Meyerson M, Demeure MJ, Beuschlein F, Gill AJ, Sidhu SB, Almeida MQ, Fragoso MC, Cope LM, Kebebew E, Habra MA, Whitsett TG, Bussey KJ, Rainey WE, Asa SL, Bertherat J, Fassnacht M, Wheeler DA; Cancer Genome Atlas Research Network, Hammer GD, Giordano TJ, Verhaak RG, published in Cancer Cell. 2016 May 9;29(5):723-36. doi: 10.1016/j.ccell.2016.04.002.

This project was funded by the European Research Area Network for Research Programmes on Rare Diseases, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the German Research Foundation and the University of Würzburg's Interdisciplinary Center for Clinical Research.

Contact

Prof. Martin Fassnacht, Head of Endocrinology and Diabetology, University Hospital, phone: +49 (931) 201-39202, fassnacht_m@ukw.de.

Dr. Silviu Sbiera, Endocrinology Research, University Hospital, phone: +49(0)931-201-39702, sbiera_s@ukw.de

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.presse.uni-wuerzburg.de

Marco Bosch | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Scientists uncover the role of a protein in production & survival of myelin-forming cells
19.07.2018 | Advanced Science Research Center, GC/CUNY

nachricht NYSCF researchers develop novel bioengineering technique for personalized bone grafts
18.07.2018 | New York Stem Cell Foundation

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

Im Focus: Chemical reactions in the light of ultrashort X-ray pulses from free-electron lasers

Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.

Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Global study of world's beaches shows threat to protected areas

19.07.2018 | Earth Sciences

New creepy, crawly search and rescue robot developed at Ben-Gurion U

19.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Metal too 'gummy' to cut? Draw on it with a Sharpie or glue stick, science says

19.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>