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Challenging dogma about a relapsed brain tumor

Memphis, Tennessee, January 27, 2021

Researcher in labcoat sitting in lab and smiling at camera.

Paul Northcott, PhD, Developmental Neurobiology, contributed to research that provides a new way to look at pediatric brain tumor relapses.

St. Jude scientists are studying a childhood brain tumor called medulloblastoma. It is among the most common malignant pediatric brain tumors. The work provides a new way of looking at relapses.

This study looked at clinical trial data alongside pairs of new and relapsed tumor samples. Ten percent of those classified as relapses were actually secondary cancers.

Most tumors stay in the same molecular group from diagnosis to relapse. But the research showed that this is not always the case. The scientists also found that the genes involved in cancer largely stay the same between the primary and relapsed tumors. The findings help us understand molecular features related to relapse.

“These findings show the need to include detailed molecular analysis with the diagnosis and treatment of these tumors,” said Paul Northcott, PhD, Developmental Neurobiology. “Understanding the molecular mechanisms responsible for treatment failure and recurrence is important, since children who relapse have few effective treatment options.”

The Journal of Clinical Oncology published this work.

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