Medulloblastoma is the most prevalent cancerous brain tumor in children, and co-senior author Robert Wechsler-Reya, PhD, said that patients with Group 3 and 4 tumors have the poorest patient outcomes. According to a study published in Nature, GFI1 and GFI1B are oncogenes that drive medulloblastoma development, particularly that of Group 3 and 4 tumors, which make them excellent candidates for molecular-targeted therapy. This collaborative discovery, which was carried out by Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, UC San Diego, the German Cancer Research Center, the University of Heidelberg, and several other research institutions, found that the oncogenes hijack enhancers, which are small DNA sections that activate genes, in order to activate themselves in medulloblastoma. With new possible therapies targeting enhancers, researchers can avoid the great challenge of targeting oncogenes. GFI1 and GFI1B participate in the phenomenon called chromosome rearrangement, which Wechsler-Reya said have only previously been observed in lymphoid cancers. Paul Northcott, PhD, said the genomes of other cancers should be re-studied to determine whether the hijacking process applies to a broader spectrum of cancers. Although current therapies can seriously affect tumor growth, several patients relapse and die. In addition, patients suffer from long-term side effects, such as cognitive deficits, and have an increased vulnerability to other cancers.
A new collaborative study carried out by researchers at Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute (Sanford-Burnham), UC San Diego, the German Cancer Research Center, the University of Heidelberg (Germany), and 33 other research institutions has identified two oncogenes, called GFI1 and GFI1B, that drive the development of medulloblastoma, the most common malignant brain tumor in children.