IMAGE: An aggressive brain tumor (glioblastoma), illustrated based on magnetic resonance data. view more
Credit: Karl-Heinz Nenning
(Vienna, August 27, 2018) Glioblastoma is a highly aggressive brain cancer that predominantly affects people in their 50s, 60s and 70s. Even under the best available care, half of the patients die within one year after diagnosis, and very few live on for more than three years. Many efforts to develop new, targeted treatments have failed over the last decade. The high degree of molecular heterogeneity among the cancer cells results in evolutionary selection for those cells that can withstand drug treatment.
In order to develop better therapies for glioblastoma, detailed knowledge about the molecular heterogeneity of the tumor cells will be crucial, given that this heterogeneity provides the substrate from which drug resistance evolves. Genetic factors such as the amplification of tumor-promoting genes and the deletion of tumor suppressor genes play an important role, but cancer is more than genetics. Recent research suggests a key role of epigenetics, which regulates gene expression and prevents the activation of harmful genes. Whether and how epigenetic regulation changes when a glioblastoma becomes therapy-resistant has been a largely unsolved question.
To investigate the role of epigenetics in glioblastoma disease progression,
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