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Gene mutation exacerbates fast-growing anaplastic oligodendroglioma cancers

Scientists have identified a gene mutation linked to the development of an aggressive form of brain cancer.

The study is the largest-ever genetic study of anaplastic oligodendrogliomas, fast-growing cancers that account for 5-10% of all tumours of the brain, which typically have a poor prognosis.

A team of researchers at the Institute of Cancer Research in London, in collaboration with laboratories in France and Canada, compared the genetic sequence of 134 oligodendrogliomas with the DNA of healthy cells.

They identified mutations in the TCF12 gene in 7.5% of oligodenrogliomas; these tumours grew more rapidly and seemed more aggressive than those where the gene was intact.

TCF12 is the genetic code for a protein that binds to DNA and controls the activity of other genes.

Richard Houlston, professor of molecular and population genetics at the Institute of Cancer Research, said: ‘Anaplastic oligodendrogliomas are difficult to remove by surgery and don’t respond well to other forms of treatment. We hope this new information might be used to discover new targeted therapies, offering patients a better chance at survival from this aggressive cancer.’

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