A genetic glitch responsible for the development of the fatal childhood cancer, neuroblastoma, has been identified by scientists from University of Florida.
They hope that the new discovery may provide a novel approach for developing treatments that target the disease also known as neuroblastoma.
"What makes our study so important is that although neuroblastoma accounts for 7 percent of childhood cancers, it is responsible for 15 percent of deaths in children with cancer," Nature quoted Dr Wendy London, a research associate professor of epidemiology, biostatistics and health policy research at the UF College of Medicine and a member of the UF Shands Cancer Centre as saying.
"This paper adds yet another gene in the pathway that could lead to tumorigenesis (tumour formation) of neuroblastoma," she added.
Under the supervision of Dr John J. Maris, director of the Cancer Centre at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, researchers team conducted a genome-wide study to identify errors in DNA that could be associated with neuroblastoma.
They looked at the genetic makeup of 846 patients with neuroblastoma and 803 healthy patients in a control group and found that a glitch called a "copy number variation" in a single chromosome is associated with neuroblastoma.
The copy number variation has to do with the gain, loss or duplication of snippets of DNA.
"This is part of series of papers that creates the bigger picture, an understanding of the genetic mechanisms that lead to neuroblastoma," said London.
"We are searching for genetic targets to treat with therapy," she added.
The researchers have also found gene called BARD1, six single-nucleotide polymorphisms - variations in tiny pieces of DNA - were also associated with neuroblastoma.