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New brain tumour gene identified for meningiomas

The causes of brain tumours have been hard to discern in most cases. But Umea researchers have previously identified an inherited predisposition for brain tumours, and now, in an international collaboration, they have also discovered a genetic variation that increases the risk of a certain type of brain tumour, called meningiomas.

Approximately 1 400 people are affected annually by tumours of the brain in Sweden and twenty per cent of those are afflicted with meningioma. The tumour itself is usually benign, but it can cause severe symptoms owing to of its location and because it is sometimes malignant. It arises from the meninges, and it is more common among women.

The study included samples from a total of 1 633 patients with meningiomas in Sweden, Germany, England, and Denmark. The results were published July 31 in the prestigious journal Nature Genetics.

The gene variant is close to MLLT10 on chromosome 10, a gene known to be involved in hematologic tumours. This gene has not previously been linked to increased risk of tumours.

- With more research we will be able to examine the function of these variants and whether they correlate with environmental factors, such as ionizing radiation, since the only environmental factor known previously for meningiomas is higher doses of ionizing radiation, says Beatrice Melin.

Co-authors of the study are researchers at Umea University; Beatrice Melin, Ulrika Andersson, Roger Henriksson, Thomas Brännström.

Principal Investigator Richard Houlston, The Institute of Cancer Research: Royal Cancer Hospital, London. E-mail: richard.houlston@icr.ac.uk Coordinator in Sweden Beatrice Melin

Contact: Beatrice Melin, assoc. professor at Umea University and oncologist at Umea University Hospital; E-mail: beatrice.melin@onkologi.umu.se; Mobile: +46- 73 091 80 28

idw :: 08.08.2011