Better treatment for common childhood brain cancer

The discovery of genetic mutations in the most common paediatric malignant brain cancer will lead to more targeted treatment for children.

Chilhood cancer

Pediatric Cancer Genome Project researchers identified potential drug targets for medulloblastoma (Credit: St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital)

Children diagnosed with the most common paediatric malignant brain cancer, medulloblastoma, will benefit from more targeted treatment following the identification of genetic mutations in the cancer.

The international research findings published in Nature may lead to the development of new drugs and better outcomes for patients, says Richard Cohn, Conjoint Associate Professor at the University of New South Wales.

A specialist at the Centre for Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders, Associate Professor Cohn contributed to the research led by a team at St Jude Comprehensive Cancer Center in the United States.

“The discovery of tumour-specific gene alterations linked to subtypes of medulloblastoma provides important insights into the development of the cancer and highlights targets for new treatment approaches,” he said.

The findings were a direct result of collaboration between six children’s oncology centres internationally, which pooled patient specimens and information.

“Now that we know about these mutations, the hope is we’ll be able to develop new drugs, or utilise existing drugs not currently used to treat this disease, to specifically attack the molecular abnormality,” Associate Professor Cohn said.

“Ideally this will lead to better outcomes for patients and better cure rates and the ability to achieve that with fewer side effects.”

Media contacts: Associate Professor Richard Cohn, Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick | 02 9382 1676 or 9382 1730
Linda McSweeny, UNSW Media Unit | 02 9385 8107 | 0414 809 120