Charting Brain Cancer Dangers

Glioblastoma and risk evaluation from genetic sequencing

(RxWiki News) The lowered cost of genetic analysis, increasing use of online databases sharing research, and more powerful computing techniques have resulted in the ability to find complex genetic patterns unimaginable only a decade ago.

Researchers compared samples from patients with glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer, against a series of genetic sequences to measure risk profile.

Their conclusions showed which genetic sequences could be correlated with higher and lower risk tumors, allowing doctors to individualize treatment for each tumor.

"Ask your oncologist about genetic sequencing."

A team from the University of Illinois compared profiles from 282 brain cancer patients against 173 known genes in order to analyze possible links between the two sets of data. 

Their findings led to three separate categories of genetic profiles for brain cancer, meaning that in the future, doctors may have a direct insight into a given patient's brain cancer profile.

Generally, cancers are evaluated with a single marker, such as prostate specific antigen (PSA) for prostate cancer.This research may represent a shift into mapping networks of genes for greater accuracy in diagnosis.

The research in the study showed several novel patterns, such as that some genes may be protective for men, but may signal a more aggressive brain cancer in women.

Nicola Serao, a Ph.D. candidate and lead author for the study, said, "This is one of the aspects of our research that makes it unique. We were able to look at several genes at the same time and relate our findings to this cancer."

Sandra Rodriguez Zas, Ph.D., professor at the University of Illinois and coauthor, said, "Because of the innovative approach we used, we believe we can more confidently predict whether a patient will have a shorter or longer survival rate and select the most adequate therapies," she said.

Three hundred and twenty genetic profiles were created, including not only characteristics of the tumor's growth and aggression but age, gender and race of the patient.

These were compared to two groups of genes associated with glioblastoma and glioma tumors, 174 genes in total, exploring every possible relationship between the two groups in statistical analysis.

The findings were published in BMC Medical Genomics.

The authors of the study declared no competing interests.

Review Date: 
March 4, 2012