Genetic test quickly profiles brain tumors

"This can help guide the physician and the patient in planning treatment," says Frank Lieberman about the new test. (Credit: iStockphoto)

A new gene sequencing test could help doctors decide how to treat brain tumors.

“The diagnosis of brain tumors has been based primarily on cellular features seen under the microscope,” says Marina Nikiforova, professor of pathology at the University of Pittsburgh. “However, patients with tumors that look identical may experience different clinical outcomes and responses to treatment because the underlying genetic characteristics of their tumors differ.

“We designed this panel to quickly identify those traits from very small biopsies of the brain lesion.”

Nikiforova and colleagues used the test, called GlioSeq, to analyze 54 adult and pediatric brain tumor samples for genetic abnormalities. They used next-generation sequencing to simultaneously identify all previously known alterations, as well as many additional genetic markers in these tumors. This provided important information on classification of these tumors, and on possible new targets for therapy.

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“This can help guide the physician and the patient in planning treatment, since the molecular information allows us to more precisely characterize tumors and more confidently predict survival and response to therapy. In addition, Glioseq facilitates the identification of clinical trial options with the appropriate molecular targets, as well as cases in which molecularly targeted drugs are available,” says Frank Lieberman, professor of neurology, neurosurgery, and medical oncology.

“Using GlioSeq helps us to understand in detail the genetic profile of brain tumors, and takes us one step closer to personalized management of our patients,” adds Nikiforova, senior investigator of the study published in Neuro-Oncology.

“We are also working on further improving this test to include additional, recently discovered molecular alterations.”

The National Institutes of Health funded the study.

Source: University of Pittsburgh