Skip to content

    Cancer Health Center

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Genes Linked to Aggressive Brain Cancer

    Study Shows Two Genes May Act as Control Switches for Glioblastoma
    By
    WebMD Health News

    Dec. 28, 2009 -- Two newly discovered genes may act as master control switches in the progression of the most aggressive form of brain cancer, glioblastoma.

    Researchers say the two genes are active in about 60% of all glioblastoma patients and identifying these genes could help identify those with this type of aggressive brain tumor.

    Glioblastoma is among the most lethal types of brain cancer because it rapidly spreads throughout the brain and creates inoperable brain tumors. Senator Edward Kennedy died of glioblastoma only 16 months after he was diagnosed with the disease.

    "We now know that two genes -- C/EPB and Stat3 -- are the disease's master 'control knobs,'" researcher Antonio Iavarone, MD, associate professor of neurology in the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center at Columbia University Medical Center, says in a news release. "When simultaneously activated, they work together to turn on hundreds of other genes that transform brain cells into highly aggressive, migratory cells."

    Researchers say that until now, they had no idea what made glioblastomas so aggressive and deadly.

    In the study, published in Nature, researchers found all brain cancer patients whose tumors showed activation of these two genes died within 140 weeks after diagnosis, compared with half of the patients without this genetic variant.

    Further experiments showed that blocking these two genes in human glioblastoma cells prevented them from forming tumors when injected into mice.

    "The finding means that suppressing both genes simultaneously, using a combination of drugs, may be a powerful therapeutic approach for these patients, for whom no satisfactory treatment exists," researcher Andrea Califano, PhD, director of the Columbia Initiative in Systems Biology, says in the news release.

    Today on WebMD

    man holding lung xray
    What you need to know.
    stem cells
    How they work for blood cancers.
     
    woman wearing pink ribbon
    Separate fact from fiction.
    Colorectal cancer cells
    Symptoms, screening tests, and more.
     
    Jennifer Goodman Linn self-portrait
    Blog
    what is your cancer risk
    HEALTH CHECK
     
    colorectal cancer treatment advances
    Video
    breast cancer overview slideshow
    SLIDESHOW
     
    prostate cancer overview
    SLIDESHOW
    lung cancer overview slideshow
    SLIDESHOW
     
    ovarian cancer overview slideshow
    SLIDESHOW
    Actor Michael Douglas
    Article