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New study sparks hope of better treatment for child hood cancer

Medulloblastoma, the most common type of malignant cancers among children, is in fact a melange of seven separate conditions each calling for a different treatment according to a study by a group of scientists at the Newcastle and Northumbria universities. The disease currently causes around 10 per cent of all childhood cancer deaths

The study published in the prestigious journal The Lancet Oncology says that seven distinct sub- groups each distinguished by its own distinct individual biological and clinical qualities together form the disease that afflicts hundreds of children around the world. Until now only four molecular subtypes had been identified.

The study led by Steve Clifford, Professor of Molecular Paediatric Oncology at the Wolfson Childhood Cancer Research Centre, Newcastle University, has sparked new hope of improving the survival rates of patients. Such optimism stems from the fact that it would now be possible for doctors to target the different sub-groups that together cause the disease individually with specialised treatment tailored for its biology.

“Since the research provides a key insight into Medulloblastoma’s molecular basis it is a significant step towards improving our understanding of the disease,” said professor Clifford. “It opens the doors to personalised treatments customised for the biological features of each patient’s tumour.”

For more information read story titled “New insight into life-threatening childhood brain cancer” at www.ncl.ac.uk

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