A class of brain tumor that tends to emerge in younger patients, but is less aggressive than others, can be identified by examining DNA methylation of a specific set of genes. Patients with these glioblastomas survive longer after diagnosis than those with other types.
“Discovery of molecular factors that define subgroups of glioblastoma will help us identify new therapeutic options for patients,” says study co-senior author Ken Aldape, M.D., professor in MD Anderson’s Department of Pathology. “In this case, therapeutically altering the methylation state of the tumor’s genes might be a new avenue for treatment.”
Methylation is an epigenetic process that affects gene expression without damaging or altering the gene’s DNA sequence. The Cancer Genome Atlas, whose colleagues collaborated with scientists at MD Anderson, is a joint initiative of the National Cancer Institute and the National Human Genome Research Institute to increase understanding of cancer genetics.
Reported in April in the online journal Cancer Cell.