Australian researchers uncover a new gene in the battle against neuroblastoma

tao-research-mainResearchers at the ACRF-funded Children’s Cancer Institute Australia have made an important discovery in the battle against neuroblastoma – one of the most aggressive forms of childhood cancer.

The Institute’s work, published in the prestigious US Journal of the National Cancer Institute, has uncovered a gene linked to the cause of neuroblastoma that could lead to the development of new targeted therapy and change the way the cancer is treated.

It shows that a new long noncoding or ‘junk’ RNA (a type of molecule) plays a critical part in neuroblastoma tumour formation. This study, led by Dr Tao Liu, Group Leader for Histone Modification at CCI, is the first time that it have been discovered that a long noncoding RNA can impact the progression of neuroblastoma.

This discovery could help develop new treatments for the disease, which has a much smaller survival rate compared to other childhood cancers. Currently, neuroblastoma is often diagnosed once the cancer is already advanced and has a survival rate of only 50%.

“Dr Liu’s study has improved our understanding of what leads to the development of neuroblastoma, and uncovered another potential target for this rare but devastating disease,” said Children’s Cancer Institute’s Head of Translational Research, Prof Glenn Marshall AM.

“Side-effects associated with conventional chemotherapy used to treat kids with cancer are a significant clinical problem. Research results such as these will help us discover new treatments, specifically designed for children, to ensure they experience the highest possible quality of life – and support further work to uncover other junk DNA targets for cancer therapy.”

Watch the ABC News report on this important discovery.

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