Measuring Life in Years, Not Months

Glioblastoma subtype offers extended lifespan

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) Brain cancer is never a good diagnosis. People who learn they have glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) usually live a bit longer than a year after diagnosis.

One subtype of the disease offers patients a better, longer outlook.

Using a new method to classify GBM tumors, researchers have discovered that patients with the CNP subtype of glioblastoma can live for years after diagnosis.

This discovery could lead to new target drugs.

"Learn what subtype of cancer you have."

John Kuo, MD, PhD, assistant professor of neurological surgery and human oncology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health, led the study.

The research describes a new method of sub-typing GBM tumors according to the proteins they have (express).

Having the CNP protein may mean the cancer is less aggressive, so that patient's lifespan is measured in years, not months.

To learn this, the research team grew the tumor lines from five human patients in the lab. The scientists then identified the biomarkers for each of the lines.

This tissue was then transplanted into the brains of mice that had weak immune systems.

In addition to this animal study, the researchers also looked for the CNP subtype in 115 human patients and observed how long they lived.

Some of the patients with the CNP protein lived for years -- as long as 10 years after diagnosis.

Dr. Kuo said that "when we looked at samples of human tumors, remarkably, we also found that the less invasive tumors expressed the CNP protein."

He goes on to say that this method of sub-typing could be simpler than existing methods and provide GBM patients with a more accurate prognosis.

Most hospitals can already test for the presence of proteins, according to Dr. Kuo.

The paper was published early online May 15 in the journal Clinical Cancer Research.

The research was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the National Cancer Institute, the Wisconsin Partnership Program, the Center for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the HEADRUSH Brain Tumor Research Professorship and the Roger Loff Memorial Fund for GBM Research.

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Review Date: 
June 24, 2012
Last Updated:
June 26, 2012