Elisabeth Manville
Jan 30, 2012

St. Jude researchers discover genetic mutations responsible for deadly brain tumors in children

Researchers at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital have identified genetic mutations in a specific type of childhood tumor of the brain stem. Genetic mutations not previously linked with cancer were found in 80 percent of the tumors studied.The type of tumor, diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG), kills 90 percent of patients within two years, but is little-understood. In this study, researchers  found most of the DIPG tumors had mutations in one of two genes belonging to the histone H3 family of proteins. “We are hopeful that identifying these mutations will lead us to new selective therapeutic targets, which are particularly important since this tumor cannot be treated surgically and still lacks effective therapies,” said Dr. Suzanne Baker, co-leader of the St. Jude Neurobiology and Brain Tumor Program.