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Worldwide Study Looks at Inherited Brain Tumors

CancerWise - January 2007

Gliogene, a new international, multi-institutional, five-year study, will try to determine genetic risk factors that might help predict primary brain tumors known as gliomas.

Gliomas are a rare but serious type of brain cancer that seem to run in some families.

Purpose of study

Approximately 5% to 10% of glioma cases run in families, but it is not known exactly what genes are related to the disease. Gliogene investigators will look at families with multiple individuals with gliomas in an attempt to identify genetic links among family members.

Finding genetic links may provide information about the disease that can be used to improve treatment and prevention strategies. “Brain tumor research is extremely challenging, yet rewarding, because any progress in this field translates into significant results down the road,” says Melissa Bondy, Ph.D., principal investigator on the study.

Bondy is professor of epidemiology at M. D. Anderson and director of the Childhood Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention Center – a joint effort of
M. D. Anderson, Texas Children’s Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

Study description

Fifteen centers in the United States, United Kingdom, Sweden, Denmark and Israel will participate in Gliogene. More centers may be recruited as the study progresses. The goal is to recruit at least 400 families who have multiple members with gliomas.

“Because so few researchers are tackling the mystery of brain tumor development, the collaboration in this study is very important,” Bondy says.

“By providing a family history and blood sample, patients and their families enable us to better understand the hereditary factors of this disease,” she says. “Participants’ willingness to give minimal time and effort to the Gliogene study may potentially reap dividends for future brain tumor patients.”

The study includes two parts:

1. Researchers will screen approximately 15,000 individuals diagnosed with glioma.

  • This involves completing a five-minute family-history questionnaire.

2. If there are two or more cases of glioma in the family, the individual will be asked to:

  • Complete a 45-minute phone or in-person interview on family history and risk factors
  • Provide a small blood sample for genetic analysis

Participants will be recruited through M. D. Anderson and the collaborating institutions, as well as through the Internet.

All aspects of the study can be completed by phone, e-mail or mail, so participants do not need to live close to collaborating institutions in order to participate. All information collected is kept confidential.


To be eligible, families must have two or more biologically related members who have been diagnosed with primary brain tumors known as gliomas.


Gliogene, funded by an $11 million grant from the National Cancer Institute, is the largest genetic study on the causes and risk factors of gliomas.

The Gliogene study is a collaboration among the following institutions in the U.S.:

  • M. D. Anderson
  • Baylor College of Medicine
  • Mayo Clinic
  • Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
  • University of California, San Francisco
  • Duke University
  • University of Illinois at Chicago
  • Evanston Northwestern Healthcare
  • Brigham and Women's Hospital
  • Columbia University

These international institutions will participate:

  • Umea University Hospital, Sweden
  • Institute of Cancer Epidemiology, Denmark
  • Institute of Cancer Research, United Kingdom
  • Gertner Institute, Israel

For more information about the study or to enroll as a participant, call 1-800-248-4856 and speak to Georgina Armstrong about protocol 2003-0974.

MD Anderson resources:

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Other resources:

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