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Gene signature indicative of survival identified in glioblastoma

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A group of immune genes have been identified that may be key in controlling cancerous spread and predicting survival times in glioblastoma multiforme, a new Neurology study has revealed.

The study could have implications for survival of patients with this form of brain tumor who currently only live for on average < 2 years following treatment.

“We’ve had luck with other types of cancer in removing the brakes on the immune system to allow it to fight the tumors, but this has not been the case with glioblastoma,” explained study author Anhua Wu (First Hospital of China Medical University, Shenyang, China).

The study involved investigation of tissue samples from 297 individuals with brain tumors; of these patients, 127 had glioblastoma and 170 had glioma. Genome sequencing was also utilized to analyze the 322 immune-related genes.

Results indicated that of the 322 immune genes reviewed, there were eight key genes that were influential in glioblastoma. Three of these genes were protective against glioblastoma and five resulted in an increased risk of early death within this patient population.

The team then created an eight gene-based risk signature for risk stratification within the glioblastoma sample group, splitting the group into high and low risk depending on their individual gene profile.

Individuals that were identified as high risk using this system were twice as likely to have a shorter survival time following diagnosis and a shorter time period between diagnosis and the first sign of tumor progression compared with those in the low-risk category. An independent analysis of 536 glioblastoma samples also revealed the same eight-gene signature.

“This study… brings us one step closer to believing that one day we will be able to exploit the immune system to better treat glioblastoma,” commented Rifaat Bashir (Fellow of the American Academy of Neurology and the American Neurological Association), who wrote an accompanying editorial.

“If our discovery of these genes is validated in other studies, we could use this ‘gene signature’ to determine the best treatments or path of treatment,” concluded Wu.

Source: American Academy of Neurology press release

This news article was also featured on our sister site, Neurology Central – www.neurology-central.com

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