Canadian researchers discover cell subgroups in treatment of paediatric ATRT brain cancer

Monday 19 December 2016

Researchers from Toronto and Montreal have successfully identified three distinct sub-groups of classification of the incurable typical teratoid rhabdoid tumours (ATRTs).

Their findings were published in the journal Cancer Cell on Tuesday.

ATRTs are a highly malignant, non-inherited type of brain cancer found in children.

Being able to classify the subgroups in this type of brain cancer brings hope in developing targeted, precision drug treatments.

Led by Dr De Carvalho, Assistant Professor in Cancer Epigenetics at the University of Toronto, the teams discovered that one of the subgroups had sensitivity to two types of anti-cancer drugs, paving the way for a greater understanding of how the cancer mutates.

"The mutation is random, but once it occurs we now know what caused it and, depending on where it occurs, the targets downstream are different,” said Dr De Carvelho.

"By understanding the mechanism, we can develop new drugs, new targets and new approaches to treatment.

"Now we have the ability to match the patient to new drugs using this subgroup classification.”

The next stage of the research will involve moving into clinical trials.