MIA is a Potential Biomarker for NF1 Tumor Load

Neurofibromatosis type 1 is a genetic condition that can cause tumors to form on nerves under the skin. Since these tumors can become malignant, it is important to monitor their growth closely and detect signs of malignant transformation as early as possible. However, the only way to currently detect them is with an MRI scan. New research published in BioMed Central’s open access journal BMC Medicine shows that a simple blood test for the protein melanoma-inhibitory activity (MIA) may be used to indicate the presence of neurofibromas even if they cannot be seen [1].

Blood test

The 2010 NF Conference – Connecting the Public with the Research

Neurofibromatosis (NF) encompasses a set of genetic disorders that cause benign and malignant tumors to grow along various types of nerves; it can also affect the development of bones and skin. There are three main types of NF tumors: neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1), neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2) and schwannomatosis. NF1 is the most frequent of the three; one in every 3,000 children is born with the disease.

The Children’s Tumor Foundation (CTF) is the leading non-governmental funder of scientific research into neurofibromatosis and has funded NF studies for over 25 years. Their goal is to identify NF drug therapies and improve the lives of those living with the disorder. The Foundation also endeavors to increase public awareness of NF and provides resources for NF patients and their families.

2010 NF Conference

The Cancer Genome Atlas Reports Molecular Characterization of Brain Tumors

A large-scale, multi-dimensional analysis of the genomic characteristics of glioblastoma, the most common primary brain tumor in adults, provides new insights into the roles of several genes and defines core biological pathways altered in tumor development [1]. The new Cancer Genome Atlas study, published in the September 4th advanced online edition of the journal Nature, also reveals a link between the DNA repair enzyme MGMT and a hypermutation phenotype, and has potential implications for the diagnosis and treatment of glioblastoma.

Glioblastoma is the most common and aggressive type of brain cancer. Patients newly diagnosed with glioblastoma have a median survival of approximately one year with generally poor response to therapy [2]. Gene expression profiling studies suggest multiple subtypes of glioblastoma that, when fully defined, may allow for more personalized therapeutic approaches [3-4].

Neurofibromatosis: From Genes to Complications to Treatments

The 2008 NF Conference was held last weekend (June 6 — 10) in Bonita Springs, Florida. The preeminent annual meeting provides a forum for basic and clinical neurofibromatosis (NF) investigators to present their research (pronounced noor-oh-fahy-broh-muh-toh-sis). The conference was attended by over 200 researchers from around the world

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This year’s theme — Genes to Complications to Treatments — highlighted the progress being made in NF research and clinical care, as well as the research programs of the Children’s Tumor Foundation. Last year’s NF Conference focused on models, mechanisms and therapeutic targets.

Funding of Childhood Cancer, NF Research in Jeopardy

Neurofibromatosis (NF) is a set of genetic disorders that can cause tumors to develop and grow along various types of nerves. The tumors may also affect the development of non-nervous system tissues such as skin and bone.

There are three types of NF tumors that result from mutation or loss of different tumor suppressor genes:

  • Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) is the most frequent inherited cause of brain and nerve tumors. One in every 3,000 children is born with NF1, making it also one of the most common inherited human diseases worldwide. Enlargement and deformation of bones may also occur. Approximately 50% of people with NF1 also have learning disabilities. NF1 is caused by a mutation or loss of the tumor suppressor gene NF1.
  • Neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2) is much rarer, occurring in one in 25,000 births. NF2 is characterized by the development of multiple tumors on the cranial and spinal nerves. The hallmark of NF2 is the formation of tumors that affect auditory nerves. Hearing loss beginning in the teens or early twenties is typically the first symptom of NF2. NF2 is caused by a mutation or loss of the tumor suppressor gene NF2.
  • Schwannomatosis is even rarer than NF2, affecting one in 40,000 individuals. SImilar to NF1 and NF2, Schwannomatosis tumors can develop on cranial, spinal and/or peripheral nerves. Although patients with Schwannomatosis do not have learning disabilities, they experience chronic pain and occasionally numbness, tingling and weakness. The candidate Schwannomatosis tumor suppressor gene is named INI1.