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Home Industry News Gene breakthrough for childhood brain cancer

Gene breakthrough for childhood brain cancer

10th September 2008

Scientists have hailed a major breakthrough to find treatments for a form of childhood brain cancer after identifying three genes involved in its development.

The Children’s Brain Tumour Research Centre at the University of Nottingham says it has identified the three genes associated with ependymoma, the third most common form of childhood brain cancer.

Around 300 under-15s are diagnosed with brain tumours in the UK every year, with 35 of these diagnoses from ependymoma.

But before now, relatively little was known about the underlying biology of this disease.

The study’s authors, presenting their results in the British Journal of Cancer, say their findings provide a more detailed understanding of the genetics behind ependymoma, which could help scientists develop targeted drugs to treat the disease more successfully, and with fewer side effects.

Despite three in four child cancer sufferers being successfully treated, survival rates for ependymoma are just 50 per cent.

Lead author Professor Richard Grundy said: “Understanding the biological causes of cancer is vitally important as it will help us to develop drugs that target abnormal genes in cancer cells but not in healthy cells, which is what traditional chemotherapy treatments do.”

Kate Law, director of clinical trials at Cancer Research UK commented: “Relatively little is known about the causes of childhood cancer, so this is an important study.”

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