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Molecular therapeutics advance fight against brain cancer

less responsive to chemotherapy, so radiation therapy is required sooner. "Given the expected increase in the life-span of patients with this deletion, there is no need to give radiation therapy early in their treatment," explains O'Rourke.

The deletion can only be detected by genetic analysis. "Under the microscope these tumors can look identical, so there's no way of knowing the difference unless a genetic analysis is performed," explains O'Rourke.

Having the ability to provide such genetic testing to determine treatment is of benefit to patients. "The idea of using a genetic test to predict prognosis and select therapy, thereby deferring potentially deleterious treatment is tremendously attractive," says O'Rourke. "Penn's genetic testing is done in-house, so patients don't have to wait for the results." Further, there is no cost to the patient at this point since the tests are performed by the Neuro-oncology Program and supported by the Abramson Cancer Center at Penn. In addition, there is no requirement for additional blood samples, so results will be given more quickly with no need for follow-up visits.

Penn colleagues J. Carl Oberholtzer, MD, PhD, Department of Neuropathology and Myrna Rosenfeld, MD, PhD, Department of Neurology and Director of the Division of Neuro-oncology as well as Jaclyn Biegel, PhD, Director of Cytogenetics, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, collaborated with O'Rourke on developing the genetic testing program. Dr. Biegel's laboratory performs the genetic test and has significant experience with genetic testing of brain tumors.

O'Rourke is also Director of the Human Brain Tumor Tissue Bank at Penn, one of only a few such dedicated banks in the United States. Tissue banks allow for the direct evaluation of human tumors and are one of the best ways to advance treatment options for gliomas and other human cancers. O'Rourke's basic research interests include finding new treatments for gliomas based on ge
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Contact: Karen Kreeger
karen.kreeger@uphs.upenn.edu
215-349-5658
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
4-Aug-2004


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