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Stanford scientists identify genetic mutations that cause common childhood brain tumors

Several gene mutations involved in medulloblastoma, the most common childhood brain tumor, have been identified by Stanford researchers. Authors of the study, which appears online in Nature and will be published with two companion papers, report that these and accompanying findings will likely lead to less-toxic and better-targeted treatments in the next couple of years.

From our release:

“We tend to treat all medulloblastomas as one disease without taking into account how heterogeneous the tumors are at the molecular level,” said Yoon-Jae Cho, MD, an assistant professor of neurology and neurological sciences at Stanford, a pediatric neurologist at [Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital] and a co-senior author of the new research. “This paper represents a finer-grained view of the genetic landscape of these tumors and provides us with some leads on how to develop new therapies.”

About two-thirds of medulloblastoma patients now survive five years past diagnosis, but many survivors suffer lasting physical or intellectual side effects from their cancer treatments. Drugs tailored to a tumor’s genetic profile have the potential to save more patients while reducing side effects, Cho said.

Previously: A less toxic, targeted therapy for childhood brain cancer, Surviving pediatric brain cancer and Big advance against a vicious pediatric brain tumor

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