Researchers at The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) Research Network have zeroed in on four distinct molecular subtypes of the most common form of malignant brain cancer in adults, glioblastoma multiforme (GBM).
The researchers of this study also found that response to aggressive chemotherapy and radiation differed by subtype.
Patients with one subtype treated with this strategy appeared to succumb to their disease at a rate approximately 50 percent slower than patients treated with less aggressive therapy.
This effect was seen to a lesser degree in two of the subtypes and not at all in the fourth subtype.
Although the findings do not affect current clinical practice, the researchers said the results might lead to more personalized approaches to treating groups of GBM patients based on their genomic alterations.
The study provides a solid framework for investigation of targeted therapies that may improve the near uniformly fatal prognosis of this cancer.
The study has been published Jan. 19, 2010 in Cancer Cell.