• Discovery’s Edge: Battling brain cancers through genomics

Discovery's Edge brain cancer illustration

For the better part of a century, brain tumors have been judged by their appearance. Where a tumor was located, how much it spread, and what it looked like under the microscope all determined whether a patient was given a good or bad prognosis, and how they were treated. But these rough measures can only tell so much about the aggressiveness of a particular tumor, its potential response to therapy, or longer term implications for the patient.

Over the last 25 years, researchers have started to see that there is far more to cancer than meets the eye. Longtime collaborators Robert Jenkins, M.D., Ph.D., at Mayo Clinic and Margaret Wrensch, M.P.H, Ph.D., at the University of California, San Francisco have applied the latest molecular technologies to probe the genetic wiring deep within gliomas, the most common kind of brain tumors. Based on their findings, they have developed a new test that will be available later this year to guide prognosis and treatment, and, in some cases, even direct targeted therapies to improve the outlook for patients with this terrifying disease.
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