Discovery could lead to improved treatment of patients with brain tumors

Sheri Holmen, PhD a researcher at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) and professor of surgery at the University of Utah just published the results of her research on gliomas in Cell Reports. (Photo: Huntsman Cancer Institute)

(KUTV) -- A discovery more than seven years in the making that helps with understanding brain tumors was recently published in Cell Reports by author, Sheri Holmen, PhD a researcher at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI), and professor of surgery at the University of Utah.

Her research on brain tumors, also called gliomas, addresses a critical piece of the puzzle for glioma development identified as a mutant gene. Her discovery about gliomas will potentially allow researchers and physicians to understand them in much greater depth.

Gliomas are the most common type of central nervous system cancer but how these tumors develop is not fully understood. However, Holmen’s research provide substantial evidence demonstrating that a mutant gene drives glioma development - specifically a mutant form of the Isocitrate dehydrogenase 1 (IDH1) gene.

This gene was previously shown to be expressed in at least 80 percent of lower grade gliomas and several other cancers.

Years of work by other scientists guided Holmen and her team to find that mutant IDH1 doesn’t work by itself; it cooperates with many other mutations and events that go wrong in brain tumor cells.

The success of this project required collaboration among multiple researchers and clinicians all over the world and utilized several types of sophisticated research equipment, a press release said.

“It forced us to get out of our comfort zone and learn about different pathways, different genes, what they do and put it all together to create the whole story,” said Holmen in the release.

The next step for Holmen’s team is to conduct preclinical trials to test treatments in mice and gather information regarding efficacy and toxicity.


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