Cracking the Genetic Code of Brain Tumors
Glioblastoma, one of the deadliest forms of brain cancer, has long confounded doctors. Even with aggressive treatment, patients typically don’t survive more than 14 months.
A major hurdle has been the variations presented by the brain tumors. Different mutations cause different cancers, even different molecular subtypes of cancers. One patient’s glioblastoma may be markedly distinct from another’s.
That’s why Vishy Iyer, a professor of molecular genetics and microbiology in the College of Natural Sciences at The University of Texas at Austin, is so determined to get a better grasp of the complexities of this fatal disease. Iyer and Matt Cowperthwaite, director of research at the NeuroTexas Institute at St. David’s HealthCare, are using next-generation sequencing to classify subtypes of glioblastoma, which they hope will open the door to more personalized — and ultimately more effective — treatments of the cancer.
The results of their research may mean that in the years to come, a diagnosis of glioblastoma will not be a death sentence.