Brain tumour that usually affects children grows slowly and is benign in nature. However, it takes more than one approach of treatment to get rid of the tumour from the brain. Now researchers have found that a single gene defect is enough to cause brain tumour in children. This form of tumour is also known as pilocytic astrocytomas. The gene whose defect leads to brain tumour in children is BRAF or GTPase regulator associated with the focal adhesion kinase. In case of a brain tumour a cellular signalling pathway is created which is active in healthy minds only when needed. This pathway permanently activates a MAP kinase which triggers the growth of cancerous cells. Earlier treatment methods have been devised where the enzyme activity of the kinases have been hit thus retarding the growth of cancer cells.
For the study, the researchers introduced a package containing a defective BRAF in a virus into the neuronal precursor cells of mice. The findings showed that in nearly 91% of the mice, tumours had developed around the area where the injection had been administered.
Researchers Jan Gronych from Lichter along with colleagues from the Heidelberg University Hospitals has reveals that the aim of this study is to arrive at the possible testing ground for drugs which can impede the growth of cancer cells in the case of pilocytic astrocytomas in children. The researchers have also shown how after treatment with a kinase inhibitor called sorafenib, the cells which had sent into a growth overdrive by the defective BRAF gene slowed down.
An important research in terms of learning the carcinogenesis of the defective BRAF gene, it is also important because hitherto surgery was never fully effective in treating brain tumour in children. Other methods such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy also have little or no effect on the cancer cells. On the other hand, they can lead to severe side effects in children undergoing treatment.