Children with incurable brain tumours could benefit from potentially life-extending treatment if genetic testing was used to personalise therapy as it is in many adults, major new research reports.
Scientists analysed the DNA of children taking an adult cancer drug on a clinical trial deemed to have ‘failed’, and found that many with particular genetic traits had actually responded well to treatment.
Some of these children survived more than a year longer than others on the trial.
The international study – led by a team at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and involving 51 centres in 14 countries – found that children whose tumours had mutations in the MAPK network of genes benefited from Avastin (bevacizumab) alongside standard treatment.
In these children, Avastin also appeared to cause immune cells to flood in to help destroy their tumours – raising the possibility that they could be good candidates for future immunotherapy.
Children’s aggressive, or ‘high grade’, brain tumours are currently treated as one disease, but a recent genetic analysis by the same team at The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) showed they were actually at least 10 different diseases.
The new research shows the benefits of testing children for genetic mutations in their tumours to make
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