Today I would like to update the Braincancer.org community about a wonderful resource that was recently released based on 5 years of diligent research from my own institution, The Ben and Catherine Ivy Center for Advanced Brain Tumor Treatment, and The Allen Brain Institute here in Seattle. Based on a vision by my predecessor, Dr. Greg Foltz, these two world-class organizations decided to build an atlas of glioblastoma biology, using patient tissues. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/05/150514102805.htm
The goal of the atlas was to analyze at the microscopic level, thousands of sections of different glioblastoma and to understand the molecular biology and gene expression of these tumors at the cellular level. This work has led to a new understanding of the biology of these tumors.
In a nutshell, whereas we previously understood glioblastoma is put into 4 or 5 categories based on Gene expression analysis, this new work breaks that theory down and gives it more detail. Our new understanding of the tumor biology reveals that the specific area of a tumor, for instance tumor cells that grow around blood vessels, or tumor cells that grow around areas of necrosis, are more similar among different patients then are those areas for any given single patient.
This represents an advance in our understanding of these tumors since it indicates that the regional area of the tumor is important in determining which genes are expressed by those tumor cells. Conversely, tumor cells express different gene products based on where they are in the tumor. This will undoubtedly challenge current paradigms in our thinking about these tumors and may reveal insights that lead to greater understanding of the biology of these tumors.
Remarkably, we have been able to link all of these patient’s microscopic tissues to other genomic assessments on line. Furthermore, all of these data are linked to the patient’s clinical status in terms of their treatments, MRI scans, and outcomes. This remarkable database has been released to the public on an open website for all of the world to see. The link is www.glioblastoma.AllenInstitute.org.
We believe that the brain tumor research community and indeed the whole cancer research community will benefit significantly by release of this data. This will allow investigators all over the world to create new hypotheses and investigate new areas of tumor biology that were not possible previously. We are very proud of this work which was performed at my institution primarily by Dr. Nameeta Shaw and Michael Lankerovich. The work at the Allen Brain Institute was overseen primarily by Dr. Ralph Puchalski. The work was supported by a generous grant from the Ben and Catherine Ivy Foundation.
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