The Cancer Genome Atlas exposes more secrets of lethal brain tumor

When The Cancer Genome Atlas launched its massively collaborative approach to organ-by-organ genomic analysis of cancers, the brain had both the benefit, and the challenge, of going first.

TCGA ganged up on glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), the most common and lethal of brain tumors, with more than 100 scientists from 14 institutions tracking down the genomic abnormalities that drive GBM.

Five years later, older and wiser, TCGA revisited glioblastoma, producing a broader, deeper picture of the drivers – and potential therapeutic targets – of the disease published in the Oct. 10 issue of Cell.

“The first paper in 2008 characterized glioblastoma in important new ways and illuminated the path for all TCGA organ studies that have followed,” said senior author Lynda Chin, M.D., professor and chair of Genomic Medicine and scientific director of the Institute for Applied Cancer Science at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

“Our new study reflects major improvements in technology applied to many more tumor samples to more completely characterize the landscape of genomic alterations in glioblastoma,” said Chin, who was also co-senior author of the first paper while she was on the faculty of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

“Information generated by this unbiased, data-driven analysis presents new opportunities to discover genomics-based biomarkers, understand disease mechanisms and generate new hypotheses to develop better, targeted therapies,” Chin said.

About 23,000 new cases of GBM are predicted in the United States during 2013 and more than 14,000 people expected to die of the disease. Most patients die within 15 months of diagnosis.

To read full release from MD Anderson, please click here.

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