CERN Scientists Make Advances in Understanding the Origin of Ependymoma
— Categories: CERN Research Articles Posted on June 29, 2010
Members of the CERN Foundation, led by scientists from the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, have developed a new approach that uses genomic information from different species to understand the biology that drives the formation of these different cancer subtypes.
This research has been published in the prominent scientific journal Nature and is authored by Richard Gilbertson, M.D., Ph.D., a member of the St. Jude Departments of Developmental Neurobiology and Oncology, and the co-principal investigator of the CERN Foundation. The key findings of the research include the discovery of the first gene, called EPHB2, which is proven to cause ependymoma, and how ependymomas in different regions of the nervous system arise when subtypes of stem cells found there acquire specific mutations.
An important component of the CERN Foundation’s research is uncovering the cellular and molecular origins of ependymoma. Dr. Gilbertson and his colleagues have developed laboratory models of ependymoma that will play a critical role in creating new tools to test potential new therapies. “The approach we have developed provides a flexible way for scientists around the world to test the hypothesis that subsets of different cancers arise when particular mutations occur in particular cell types,” Gilbertson said. “Because the laboratory models developed from this approach accurately model patient subgroups, they can then be used to develop and tailor effective new treatments for these patients.”
These findings will have an impact on the CERN Foundation’s Developmental Therapeutics Project which will apply Gilbertson’s approach to uncover and synthesize new drugs that may have activity in ependymoma. Ultimately, it is expected that this research will lead to CERN sponsored clinical trials that will bring these advances in the greater understanding of ependymoma biology and treatment directly to patients.
In addition to the CERN Foundation, the work was supported in part by the National Institutes of Health and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.