Some kids with DIPG, the deadliest childhood brain tumor, have better survival outcomes than others, says the latest research.
The difference in outcomes has to do with variations in genes called histone mutations, says researchers from Michigan Medicine’s Pediatric Brain Tumor Research Initiative.
Keep in mind that the term “survival” here refers to length of time alive following diagnosis.
• Data from over 500 published cases of DIPG involving histone mutations was analyzed.
• The cases spanned 2012 to 2017.
• One of the cases was that of Chad Carr, who succumbed to DIPG at age five, 14 months after diagnosis.
Researchers wanted to know if the cancers with the histone mutation had invaded surrounding brain tissue.
• 21 cases involved cancers that had not invaded surrounding brain tissue.
• Compared to patients with more invasive tumors, these 21 patients had about four to five times longer survival rates.
• The full report is in the Jan. 2018 Acta Neuropathologica.
“These findings show that the extent of invasion into surrounding brain tissue is really important in determining prognosis in DIPGs with histone mutations,” says Sriram Venneti, MD, in the paper, and the study’s senior author.
“Current guidelines lump all tumors with this type of histone mutation into the same category when it comes to prognosis,” continues Dr. Venneti.
“While the majority of these patients have invasive tumors, we found that those who don’t have a better prognosis.”
Donation of pediatric brain tumors is crucial for helping scientists better understand these ruthless killers.
Chad Carr’s parents donated his tumor tissue to DIPG research at Michigan, as did other parents of patients who were treated at U-M’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.
The donated tissue from this exceptionally rare brain cancer is vital for understanding the behavior of the tumor and why it’s so resistant to treatment.
Due to a combination of the extreme rarity of DIPG (about 300 new cases a year are diagnosed in the U.S.) and the lack of donated tissue, researchers have very little to study.
This is why Dr. Venneti and colleagues pooled together the 500+ cases for analysis, unearthing a statistical significance between non-invasive and invasive DIPG’s.
“It is still far too early to know how this finding may guide therapy,” continues the paper, “but it is valuable for this group of patients. With such a rare type of tumor, research on every single one helps us get closer to finding a way to fight it.”