Researchers say they’ve identified specific gene combinations that can cause the aggressive brain cancer glioblastoma in mice.
Using new technology that can also identify genetic triggers of other cancers, a Yale University-led team assessed the impact of mutations in more than 1,500 genetic combinations. They reported finding multiple combinations in living mice that could cause glioblastoma.
Two of the mutations could make glioblastoma resistant to chemotherapy — a finding that could help doctors tailor treatments for individual patients, according to the researchers.
“The human cancer genome is now mapped and thousands of new mutations were associated with cancer, but it has been difficult to prove which ones or their combinations actually cause cancer,” co-corresponding author Sidi Chen said in a university news release.
“We can also use this information to determine which existing drugs are most likely to have therapeutic value for individual patients, a step towards personalized cancer therapy,” Chen added. He is an assistant professor of genetics at the Yale School of Medicine.
Glioblastoma is a hard-to-treat brain cancer. According to the researchers, median survival is 12 to 18 months after diagnosis, meaning half of patients live less time, half more.
It’s important to note that research involving animals often doesn’t produce the same results in humans.
The study was published Aug. 14 in the journal Neuroscience.
The American Brain Tumor Association has more on glioblastoma.