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Molecular origins of childhood brain cancer

Principal Investigator:
  • Marco Gallo, University of Calgary
  • The Azrieli Foundation

Project Overview

Pediatric high-grade gliomas are incurable brain cancers. Sequencing the tumor specimens has shown that most cases do not have obvious mutations that are known to cause cancer. It is therefore not known what causes, or “drives,” these cancers. Identifying cancer drivers is a fundamental step in designing new treatments. We have generated data showing that some mutations in pediatric high-grade gliomas occur not in genes, but in the “switches” for genes. These switches have key roles in making sure that a gene is switched on at the right level (not too little, not too much). We propose that some of the mutations found in switches cause some genes to be turned on too much, or to be turned off even if they are needed for normal cell function. Our work is aimed at uncovering which mutations in switches have important roles for the initiation and progression of these pediatric brain cancers, as a first step toward the design of effective treatments