Glioblastoma Could Be Linked to Combination of Mutational Change in Key Cells and Healing Process After Brain Injury, New Study Suggests; Findings May Lay Foundation for Precision Medicine Efforts to Treat Deadly Disease

The healing process that follows a brain injury--from trauma to infection and stroke--could spur growth of glioblastoma. This finding, published online on January4, 2021 in Nature Cancer (, was made by an interdisciplinary team of researchers from the University of Toronto, The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), and the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. The researchers are part of the pan-Canadian Stand Up to Cancer Canada Dream Team ( that focuses on the common brain cancer known as glioblastoma. “Our data suggest that the right mutational change in particular cells in the brain could be modified by injury to give rise to a tumor,” says Peter Dirks, MD, PhD, a Professor in the Temerty Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto, and Dream Team leader, who is the Head of the Division of Neurosurgery and also a Senior Scientist in the Developmental and Stem Cell Biology Program at Sickkids. Gary Bader, PhD, a Professor of Molecular Genetics in the Temerty Faculty of Medicine and the Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research at the University of Toronto, and Trevor Pugh, PhD, an Associate Professor of Medical Biophysics in the Temerty Faculty of Medicine and senior scientist at Princess Margaret, also led the research. The findings could lead to new therapy for glioblastoma patients who currently have limited treatment options with an average lifespan of 15 months after diagnosis.
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