Personalizing Childhood Cancer Treatments

Neuroblastoma molecular analysis may be used to determine best treatment

(RxWiki News) It’s the most common form of cancer that develops in infants. Neuroblastoma is most often seen in children under the age of 5. Some 650 American families learn their child has this cancer that affects the nerve cells each year.

Researchers in Sweden have developed a method for analyzing the DNA of tumor tissue to distinguish the different subtypes of neuroblastoma. 

This technique may lead to more personalized treatment for the kids with this cancer – which can spontaneously shrink or become very aggressive and potentially deadly.

"Ask what sub-type of cancer you have."

Researchers at the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg have shown that DNA analyses is effective in determining treatment options.

The objective of the study was to describe the genes and mechanisms involved in neuroblastoma development. Researchers used data from what’s called single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP)-arrays.

"The ultimate scenario would be first to analyze the tumor, and then to introduce medicine that targets the specific properties of that particular tumor," said Hanna Kryh, who presented the results of the study in her thesis.

"In this way, the treatment could be personalized so that patients with a more aggressive form would receive an intensive treatment, while patients with a less aggressive form could be spared unnecessary side-effects, Kryh said.

The investigators also found a new subtype of neuroblastoma. This discovery could lead to the development of new drugs that target the genes involved in this form of the disease.

Meanwhile, the SNP method was shown to be effective in characterizing the DNA of neuroblastoma tumor cells. It is currently being used in Swedish children who are diagnosed with the disease.

The thesis was published by the University of Gothenburg. No funding information was provided, and authors disclosed no conflicts of interest.

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Review Date: 
October 22, 2012
Last Updated:
October 24, 2012