Researchers find new biomarker for brain cancer prognosis

December 06, 2016

DALLAS - Dec. 6, 2016 - Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have found a new biomarker for glioma, a common type of brain cancer, that can help doctors determine how aggressive a cancer is and that could eventually help determine the best course of treatment.

Researchers from the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center found that high expression of a gene called SHOX2 predicted poor survival in intermediate grade gliomas.

"As an independent biomarker, SHOX2 expression is as potent as the currently best and widely used marker known as IDH mutations," said Dr. Adi Gazdar, Professor of Pathology in the Nancy B. and Jake L. Hamon Center for Therapeutic Oncology and a member of the Simmons Cancer Center.

According to the National Cancer Institute, cancers of the brain and nervous system affect nearly 24,000 people annually. In 2013, there were an estimated 152,751 people living with brain and other nervous system cancer in the United States. The overall 5-year survival rate is 33.8 percent.

Knowing the probable survival status of an individual patient may help physicians choose the best treatment.

In combination with IDH mutations or several other biomarkers, SHOX2 expression helped to identify subgroups of patients with a good prognosis even though other biomarkers had predicted a bad prognosis.

"Our findings are based on analysis of previously published studies. They will have to be confirmed in prospective studies, and their clinical contribution and method of use remain to be determined," said Dr. Gazdar, who holds the W. Ray Wallace Distinguished Chair in Molecular Oncology Research.

The findings are published in EBiomedicine.
This work in brain cancer research is supported by the National Institutes of Health.

Long-term goals of Dr. Gazdar's lab are to the determine molecular and genetic basis of human cancers, and to develop molecular insights to provide prognostic and diagnostic therapies in the treatment of human cancers. A former researcher at the National Cancer Institute, Dr. Gazdar's efforts there and at UT Southwestern have resulted in the collection and analysis of more than 2,500 human tumor specimens as well as the establishment of more than 400 lung, breast, ovary, and other types of tumor cell lines.

Additional UT Southwestern researchers who contributed to the current study include Dr. Yu-An Zhang, Instructor in the Hamon Center for Therapeutic Oncology Research; Dr. Yunyun Zhou, Computational Biologist in the Department of Clinical Sciences; Dr. Xin Luo, Data Scientist in the Department of Bioinformatics; Dr. Luc Girard, Assistant Professor in the Hamon Center for Therapeutic Oncology Research; and Dr. Guanghua Xiao, Associate Professor in the Department of Clinical Sciences and a member of the Simmons Cancer Center.

The Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center is the only NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center in North Texas and one of just 47 NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers in the nation. Simmons Cancer Center includes 13 major cancer care programs. In addition, the Center's education and training programs support and develop the next generation of cancer researchers and clinicians. Simmons Cancer Center is among only 30 U.S. cancer research centers to be designated by the NCI as a National Clinical Trials Network Lead Academic Participating Site.

About Gliomas Generally speaking, gliomas arise due to aberrations in normal brain cells. Depending on the nature of the aberration, the glioma can be fast- , intermediate- or slow-growing. Gliomas do not metastasize or travel to other parts of the body. Patients with gliomas commonly present with headaches, seizures, weakness, or vision changes.

Decades ago, patients were treated with aggressive regimens that resulted in significant side effects without an improvement in the quantity or quality of life. Today, treatments for gliomas are much more sophisticated. Because scientists have a better understanding of the underlying biology and genetics of gliomas, physicians are able to tailor treatments to maximize effectiveness while minimizing unwanted side effects.


  • Depending on the type of glioma, the treatment regimen may include:
  • Surgery -- the first step in treatment for most patients
  • Chemotherapy and radiation therapy -- used to treat high-grade gliomas
  • Clinical trials
  • Source: UTSW

    About UT Southwestern Medical Center

    UT Southwestern, one of the premier academic medical centers in the nation, integrates pioneering biomedical research with exceptional clinical care and education. The institution's faculty includes many distinguished members, including six who have been awarded Nobel Prizes since 1985. The faculty of almost 2,800 is responsible for groundbreaking medical advances and is committed to translating science-driven research quickly to new clinical treatments. UT Southwestern physicians provide medical care in about 80 specialties to more than 100,000 hospitalized patients and oversee approximately 2.2 million outpatient visits a year.

    This news release is available on our website at

    To automatically receive news releases from UT Southwestern via email, subscribe at

    UT Southwestern Medical Center

    Related Cancer Articles from Brightsurf:

    New blood cancer treatment works by selectively interfering with cancer cell signalling
    University of Alberta scientists have identified the mechanism of action behind a new type of precision cancer drug for blood cancers that is set for human trials, according to research published in Nature Communications.

    UCI researchers uncover cancer cell vulnerabilities; may lead to better cancer therapies
    A new University of California, Irvine-led study reveals a protein responsible for genetic changes resulting in a variety of cancers, may also be the key to more effective, targeted cancer therapy.

    Breast cancer treatment costs highest among young women with metastic cancer
    In a fight for their lives, young women, age 18-44, spend double the amount of older women to survive metastatic breast cancer, according to a large statewide study by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

    Cancer mortality continues steady decline, driven by progress against lung cancer
    The cancer death rate declined by 29% from 1991 to 2017, including a 2.2% drop from 2016 to 2017, the largest single-year drop in cancer mortality ever reported.

    Stress in cervical cancer patients associated with higher risk of cancer-specific mortality
    Psychological stress was associated with a higher risk of cancer-specific mortality in women diagnosed with cervical cancer.

    Cancer-sniffing dogs 97% accurate in identifying lung cancer, according to study in JAOA
    The next step will be to further fractionate the samples based on chemical and physical properties, presenting them back to the dogs until the specific biomarkers for each cancer are identified.

    Moffitt Cancer Center researchers identify one way T cell function may fail in cancer
    Moffitt Cancer Center researchers have discovered a mechanism by which one type of immune cell, CD8+ T cells, can become dysfunctional, impeding its ability to seek and kill cancer cells.

    More cancer survivors, fewer cancer specialists point to challenge in meeting care needs
    An aging population, a growing number of cancer survivors, and a projected shortage of cancer care providers will result in a challenge in delivering the care for cancer survivors in the United States if systemic changes are not made.

    New cancer vaccine platform a potential tool for efficacious targeted cancer therapy
    Researchers at the University of Helsinki have discovered a solution in the form of a cancer vaccine platform for improving the efficacy of oncolytic viruses used in cancer treatment.

    American Cancer Society outlines blueprint for cancer control in the 21st century
    The American Cancer Society is outlining its vision for cancer control in the decades ahead in a series of articles that forms the basis of a national cancer control plan.

    Read More: Cancer News and Cancer Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to