Ependymoma cell

Brain tumor culprit caught

Scientists at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital recently led a successful hunt through billions of pieces of genetic information. Their prize? The discovery of an abnormal protein that likely spurs cancer growth in children with the brain tumor ependymoma.

The abnormal protein turns normal cells into cancer cells by stimulating a process called NF-κB signaling at the wrong time. The problem was found in 70 percent of children with ependymomas in the front part of the brain.

There are no effective drugs against ependymoma, so scientists are actively seeking new therapies. “This should help us to understand how abnormal NF-κB activity drives cancer. Then we can develop new treatments to block that activity,” said Richard Gilbertson, MD, PhD, director of the St. Jude Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The findings, published in the journal Nature, are the latest from the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital—Washington University Pediatric Cancer Genome Project.

February 19, 2014

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Photo: Microscopic image of ependymoma. Credit: Dr. David Ellison, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital