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 Magic number colloidal clusters
13.12.2018 | Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg

nachricht Record levels of mercury released by thawing permafrost in Canadian Arctic
13.12.2018 | University of Alberta

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: An energy-efficient way to stay warm: Sew high-tech heating patches to your clothes

Personal patches could reduce energy waste in buildings, Rutgers-led study says

What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes - while significantly reducing your...

Im Focus: Lethal combination: Drug cocktail turns off the juice to cancer cells

A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.

The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...

Im Focus: New Foldable Drone Flies through Narrow Holes in Rescue Missions

A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.

Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...

Im Focus: Topological material switched off and on for the first time

Key advance for future topological transistors

Over the last decade, there has been much excitement about the discovery, recognised by the Nobel Prize in Physics only two years ago, that there are two types...

Im Focus: Researchers develop method to transfer entire 2D circuits to any smooth surface

What if a sensor sensing a thing could be part of the thing itself? Rice University engineers believe they have a two-dimensional solution to do just that.

Rice engineers led by materials scientists Pulickel Ajayan and Jun Lou have developed a method to make atom-flat sensors that seamlessly integrate with devices...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

ICTM Conference 2019: Digitization emerges as an engineering trend for turbomachinery construction

12.12.2018 | Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Magic number colloidal clusters

13.12.2018 | Life Sciences

UNLV study unlocks clues to how planets form

13.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Live from the ocean research vessel Atlantis

13.12.2018 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>