Breast cancer type 1 susceptibility gene (BRCA1) protein expression may be an important predictive biomarker of overall survival in patients with glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), according to a study presented at the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) 56th annual meeting in San Antonio, TX.

Researchers led by Maria Vasilakopoulou, MD, PhD, of the Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital in Paris, France, analyzed tissue microarrays from archived GBM tumors from 66 patients who participated in the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG) clinical trials in order to determine any association with the expression and prognostic significance of 4 molecular biomarkers.

Observed patients had similar overall survival and were treated with surgery, radiation, and non-temozolomide chemotherapy.

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“Among the 4 biomarkers assessed, only BRCA1 protein expression had a statistically significant correlation with overall survival,” said Dr. Vasilakopoulou.

Patients with low tumor BRCA1 protein expression were found to have a median survival time of 18.9 months compared to those with high expression of the protein who had 4.8 months.

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“The study results suggest strongly that low BRCA1 protein expression in the GBM tumor, and the consequent low DNA repair, causes the cancer cells to be more susceptible to DNA-damaging cancer treatment,” said Dr. Vasilakopoulou.

She concluded that patients identified as high expressers could be treated with agents that downregulate BRCA1 in order to sensitize them to other cytotoxic therapies.


  1. BRCA1 expression in glioblastoma multiforme tumors predicts patient survival [press release]. NRG Oncology; October 21, 2015; Accessed October 23, 2015.