The finding that epigenetic changes can be the cause of glioma brain cancers means that novel chemotherapeutic drugs that target those changes may hold the key to halting tumor growth.
A groundbreaking study conducted by researchers at Dana-Farber and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard has unveiled the origins of glioma brain tumors. Unlike traditional mutations, these tumors can arise due to alterations in the epigenome, the compounds that modify DNA without changing its sequence. This discovery opens new avenues for targeted therapies that could revolutionize the treatment of this incurable disease.
- Title: Modeling Epigenetic Lesions that Cause Gliomas
- Publication: Cell, Tuesday, July 25, 2023
- Authors: Gilbert J. Rahme, PhD; Nauman M. Javed, MD, PhD; Kaitlyn L. Puorro; Volker Hovestadt, PhD; Sarah E. Johnstone, MD, PhD; Bradley E. Bernstein, MD, PhD
- Funding: Supported by the National Cancer Institute, the National Institutes of Health, and the American Cancer Society
- Focus: Investigation of the epigenetic changes that lead to glioma brain tumors, including the identification of two key genes.
- Gliomas can arise from changes in the epigenome, not just DNA mutations.
- Two genes were identified whose activity is epigenetically altered in human gliomas: one oncogene and one tumor suppressor gene.
- In animal models, epigenetic changes that activate the oncogene and silence the tumor suppressor work together to cause brain tumor formation.
- The findings highlight the potential for therapies targeting the epigenome to impede gliomas.
- The study reveals a novel understanding of glioma brain tumors, emphasizing the role of epigenetic changes. This discovery paves the way for innovative therapeutic strategies that may hold the key to controlling tumor growth.
Did You Know?
Gliomas are among the most common and aggressive brain tumors, accounting for about 30% of all brain and central nervous system tumors and 80% of all malignant brain tumors.