Medulloblastoma is the most common malignant childhood brain tumor. It has four subtypes. Two of them, Groups 3 and 4, account for 60% of cases. They are the least understood.
Scientists completed the most in-depth study of medulloblastoma subtypes. To do that, they studied single cells. This helped shed light on how the cells become cancerous.
“The ability to look at these single cells propelled us 10 steps forward in understanding how the types of medulloblastoma arise, what drives them, and how we can make treatments more effective,” said Paul Northcott, PhD, of the St. Jude Department of Developmental Neurobiology.
The scientists found the first cell of origin for Group 4. They also learned more about the relationship between Groups 3 and 4.
The findings may help scientists create lab models of the disease and design future clinical trials.
St. Jude worked on the project with Massachusetts General Hospital, the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and others.
Nature published a report on this work.