24-04-18 Study finds differences between Childhood and Adult Cancers

A recent pan-cancer study in USA has found that several cancer types are genetically different in children and adults.

The paediatric study, led by Jinghui Zhang, Ph.D., at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, analysed samples from nearly 1,700 patients, aged 20 or younger, looking at all non-inherited, or somatic, genetic alterations. Adult patients in the TARGET study elsewhere in USA had common childhood cancers, including acute lymphoblastic leukemia, acute myeloid leukemia, neuroblastoma, Wilms tumor, and osteosarcoma.

The researchers identified 142 altered genes that drive the development of these cancers (driver mutations), of which only 45% are found in adult cancers.

The findings reinforce the growing belief that drugs developed and approved to treat cancers in adults may not always be effective or appropriate for children with the same cancer types, emphasising the need for paediatric cancer-specific development of precision therapies.

Further Reading
Nature, International Journal of Science.

Photo credit: Healthychildren.org

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