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Alterations to Target

Genetic testing can help diagnose or determine treatment approaches for some children with brain tumors, MIT's Technology Review reports.

Researchers from the Dana-Farber Cancer Center and elsewhere tested some 200 tumor samples from pediatric brain cancer patients using OncoPanel, a multiplexed targeted exome-sequencing platform that examines 300 cancer-related genes, and OncoCopy, an aCGH assay that evaluates copy number changes. As the researchers report in Neuro-Oncology, this revealed clinically relevant alterations in 56 percent of patients.

In particular, the researchers report that they picked up BRAF, PIK3CA, and KIT alterations, among others, for which there are inhibitors being tested in clinical trials. Dabrafenib, which targets BRAF, is currently approved by the US Food and Drug Administration to treat melanoma and is being evaluated for use in some pediatric brain tumor types, Tech Review notes. The researchers also uncovered mutations in genes like FGFR1 and MYC for which inhibitors are starting early-stage trials.

The study also underscores differences between adult and pediatric brain cancers, Tech Review says.

"The reason why we're doing this for kids with brain tumors is that we're not winning with standard treatments," co-lead author Pratiti Bandopadhayay from Dana-Farber tells Tech Review.