Researchers identify molecular drivers of most common type of childhood brain tumour

A team of researchers has identified the molecular drivers behind the most common type of paediatric brain tumour.

The research, from teams working at Great Ormond Street Hospital, the UCL Institute of Child Health and four other research institutions could improve the treatment of children with a type of brain tumour known as pilocytic astrocytoma.

The researchers carried out tests on brain tumour samples taken from 57 children, detailing microRNA (mRNA) and gene expression profiles alongside a pathway analysis. The findings suggested that there is a distinctive mRNA and gene expression profile in pilocytic astrocytoma when compared to other paediatric brain tumours.

Researchers found mRNA to be up-regulated and it is suggested that the resulting effect on the ERK/MAPK pathway contributes to the unique phenotype of pilocytic astrocytoma.

Pilocytic astrocytomas are the most common type of central nervous tumours in children. They are often slow growing, cystic well-circumscribed tumours that are most commonly situated within the cerebellum, making the removal of the tumour possible. However, many children are left with significant chronic disabilities following treatment.

The Great Ormond Street BRC supported the study, which is published in Acta Neuropathologica Communications.