Scientists are hoping the identification of three genes key to the development of a type of childhood brain cancer will lead to the development of new drugs.
Academics at the University of Nottingham believe the breakthrough may improve treatments for ependymoma – the third most common form of brain cancer in children.
Until now relatively little has been known about the disease, but researchers at the Children’s Brain Tumour Research Centre hope a new understanding of ependymoma will mean the next generation of drugs will have fewer side effects.
Their study, which was carried out on behalf of the Children’s Cancer and Leukaemia Group and funded by the Joseph Foote charity, was published in the British Journal of Cancer.
In the UK, about 35 children are diagnosed with ependymoma each year, while about half of these are under the age of three. The survival rate for the disease is 50%.
Professor Richard Grundy, the study’s lead author, said: “Understanding the biological causes of cancer is vitally important as it will help us to develop drugs that target abnormal genes in cancer cells but not in healthy cells, which is what traditional chemotherapy treatments do.”
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