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Gene Defect Linked to Brain Tumor (Reuters) A genetic glitch in a process called RNA editing may be involved in malignant glioma, a usually fatal form of brain cancer, researchers report. - Dec 12 1:31 PM ET


Al Musella's Comments: (This is his personal views and are not necessarily the views of the Musella Foundation!)



Website: http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20011212/hl/brain_13.html

Posted on: 12/13/2001

Gene Defect Linked to Brain Tumor

By Merritt McKinney

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - A genetic glitch in a process called RNA editing may be involved in malignant glioma, a usually fatal form of brain cancer, researchers report.

The irregularity in RNA editing may help explain why people with this type of brain tumor often develop epileptic seizures, one of the study's authors told Reuters Health.

RNA is the working molecule that translates the genetic instructions of DNA into functioning cell proteins.

"RNA editing represents a mechanism used by nature to create multiple functions from a single piece of stored information--one gene," explained the study's first author, Dr. Stefan Maas of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (news - web sites) (MIT) in Cambridge. This shuffling of genetic building blocks leads to new recipes for building a variety of proteins.

But this editing process seems to be incomplete in people with malignant glioma, Maas and his colleagues report in the December 4th issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (news - web sites).

When the researchers compared samples of human glioma tissue with samples from the brains of healthy people, they discovered that much less RNA editing had taken place in people with cancer. This deficiency could be related to some symptoms of glioma, according to Maas.

"Our findings suggest that the observed aberration in RNA editing might be related to the occurrence of epileptic seizures in patients with brain tumors," Maas said.

But the MIT scientist noted that it is "unlikely" that RNA editing is involved in the formation of the tumor itself. Instead, it may become compromised as the tumor progresses, he said.

Knowing that RNA editing sometimes goes awry in malignant glioma may provide physicians with another marker for classifying tumors and the outlook for patients, Maas explained.

The discovery may also lead to treatments to control seizures in patients with a brain tumor, Maas added. "This could be achieved," he said, "by developing compounds which would enhance the editing process" or blocking non-edited molecules.

SOURCE: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 2001;98:14687-



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