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Wash U scientists find mutations in deadly brain cancer


By Julie Bierach, KWMU

SAINT LOUIS, MO – Scientists at the Genome Sequencing Center at Washington University have discovered genetic mutations underlying an aggressive form of brain cancer.

Researchers say the findings lay the foundation for developing new ways to diagnose and treat the deadly disease.

Glioblastoma is one of the most common and deadliest forms of brain cancer. Most patients with glioblastoma die within 14 months of diagnosis.

In the study, researchers analyzed the genomes of tumor samples from 206 patients with the disease. They found mutations in three genes that previously had not been known to be mutated in glioblastoma.

Rick Wilson, director of the Genome Sequencing Center at Washington University says they found a potential mechanism of resistance to a common chemotherapy drug used to treat the cancer.

"So this is very useful," said Wilson. "This is information that immediately empowers the oncologist to think about how he might treat individual cases of glioblastoma."

The study is part of The Cancer Genome Atlas Project, a collaborative effort among several institutions to understand the molecular basis of cancer.

The findings are published in this week's Nature.


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