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Scientists Identify Genes Linked to Childhood Brain Cancer

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Genetic malfunctions linked to one of the leading types of childhood brain cancer have been identified by a Canadian-led team of researchers, who said their findings may lead to new treatments for medulloblastoma.

In the largest-ever genetic study of childhood brain cancer, the scientists sequenced the DNA of brain tumors taken from 800 children worldwide, the Globe and Mail reported.

They identified a family of eight genes capable of causing the deadly form of brain cancer, which occurs when primitive brain cells develop into tumors at the back of the brain. When the genes work properly, they instruct neurons in that area of the brain to stop growing. But a malfunction in any of the eight genes leads to medulloblastoma, which kills 40 percent of patients within five years.

Scientists are racing to test compounds already known to affect these eight genes, the Globe and Mail reported.

The study was published online Sunday in the journal Nature Genetics.

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