Scientists showed in mice that disabling a gene linked to a common pediatric tumor disorder, neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1), made stem cells from one part of the brain proliferate rapidly. But the same genetic deficit had no effect on stem cells from another brain region.
Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital have identified several gene mutations responsible for the most common childhood brain tumor, called medulloblastoma, adding evidence to the theory that the diagnosis is a group of genetically distinct cancers with different prognoses. These and accompanying findings are likely to lead to less toxic, better targeted treatment approaches over the next two years, the researchers said.
Scientists have long believed that glioblastoma multiforme, the most aggressive type of primary brain tumor, begins in glial cells that make up supportive tissue in the brain or in neural stem cells. Researchers found that the tumors can originate from other types of differentiated cells in the nervous system, including cortical neurons.