MUHC study makes headway in understanding pediatric brain tumors



    MONTREAL, March 30 /CNW Telbec/ - A new study led by researchers at the
McGill University Health Center (MUHC) has significantly advanced the
understanding of pediatric glioblastoma (pGBM) - the most deadly form of brain
tumor. The study, published in the April 1 edition of the Journal of Clinical
Oncology, reveals that there are at least two subsets of pGBM, which are
activated through different genetic pathways. In addition their findings
confirm that pGBM and the adult form (aGBM) are genetically distinct. These
discoveries may lead to improved and disease-specific treatment that will halt
tumour growth.
    Glioblastoma multiforme, or GBM, is a particularly aggressive type of
brain tumor that strikes apparently healthy people, from adults to children,
without warning. "Adult GBM (aGBM) kills the vast majority of patients within
two years of diagnosis," says Dr. Nada Jabado, a researcher at the Montreal
Children's Hospital of the MUHC, an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at
McGill University, and senior author of the new study. "With around a 20
percent survival rate, pediatric GBM (pGBM) is only slightly less lethal that
aGBM."
    "Overall, we know very little about pGBM," she notes. "For many years
pGBM and aGBM were considered to be the same disease, but we started to notice
differences between the two in terms of survival, response to treatment and
genetic abnormalities. Our findings confirm that pGBM and aGBM are triggered
by different molecular events."
    Genetic testing conducted by the researchers, who include Dr. Andre
Nantel from the Biotechnology Research Institute (Canadian Research Counci),
also revealed that there are at least two different forms of pGBM. "Both
subsets of pGBM show an abnormal production of a protein that may drive the
growth of this tumor," says Dr. Jabado. "We hope this study will provide
scientists with better treatment targets for this devastating disease."
    Alterations in our genes are responsible for an estimated 5000 hereditary
diseases and influence the development of thousands of other diseases. Once
the genes involved in a particular disease are discovered, researchers become
better able to precisely diagnose disease, predict its course, and create more
effective treatments with fewer side effects. Medical genetics can even be
used to assess patients' risk of developing certain diseases, allowing them to
take preventive medicines and make lifestyle changes, like diet and
environment, which may help prevent development. Medical genetics research is
advancing at an incredible rate.
    Over the past year MUHC scientists have identified genes responsible for
breast cancer, colon cancer, lung cancer, tuberculosis, and migraines.
    This research was supported by funds from the Canadian Institutes of
Health Research, the Penny Cole Foundation, an NRC Genome Health Initiative
grant, the Hungarian Scientific Research Fund, and the National Research and
Development Fund. Nada Jabado is the recipient of a Chercheur Boursier Award
from Fonds de la Recherche en Sante du Quebec.

    The Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI MUHC)
is a world-renowned biomedical and health-care hospital research centre.
Located in Montreal, Quebec, the institute is the research arm of the MUHC, a
university health center affiliated with the Faculty of Medicine at McGill
University. The institute supports over 500 researchers, nearly 1000 graduate
and post-doctoral students and operates more than 300 laboratories devoted to
a broad spectrum of fundamental and clinical research. The Research Institute
operates at the forefront of knowledge, innovation and technology and is
inextricably linked to the clinical programs of the MUHC, ensuring that
patients benefit directly from the latest research-based knowledge. For
further details visit: www.muhc.ca/research.

    The NRC Biotechnology Research Institute (www.bri.nrc.gc.ca) is located
in Montreal, Quebec, and is one of the most important biotechnology R&D
laboratories in Canada. More than 800 people - NRC employees, students,
researchers and guest scientists - work in its three large research sectors:
Health, Bioprocess, and Environment, as well as in setting up the Institute's
many industrial partnerships. The Institute maintains ties with industry and
universities for the benefit of Canadians.




For further information:

For further information: Christine Zeindler, Communications Coordinator
(research), MUHC Public Relations and Communications, (514) 843-1560, Pager:
(514) 406-1577, christine.zeindler@muhc.ca


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