Dr. Frederick Boop presents at the ISPN 2020 Virtual Meeting

Molecular biology of brain tumors impacts prognosis, treatment of pediatric brain tumors

Understanding the molecular biology of brain tumors is key to prognosis and treatment said Le Bonheur Neuroscience Institute Co-Director Frederick Boop, MD, in his presentation “How Molecular Biology Impacts Clinical Practice” at the International Society for Pediatric Neurosurgery (ISPN) 2020 Virtual Meeting.

“Historically we have depended on what we see under a microscope to differentiate tumor types and determine prognosis and therapy,” said Boop. “We know now that what we see doesn’t necessarily predict how these tumors are going to behave.”

Physicians are able to send a piece of a child’s tumor to FoundationOne, an FDA-approved tissue-based broad companion diagnostic (CDx) for solid tumors, which provides the genomic alterations of that particular tumor. This explanation of the genetic aberrations includes its significance, best available treatment with mechanism of action and studies open for enrollment.

Manipulation of tumors based on molecular genetics began more than 35 years ago with shrinking prolactinomas before turning to neurosurgery. Boop and his team now use a molecular biological approach with medulloblastomas, low-grade gliomas, congenital glioblastomas and many more types of brain tumors. Closer study of molecular genetics has revealed different variants within each type of tumor, each with a different treatment approach and prognosis based on the genetic variant. Further study is needed into treatment side effects and long-term consequences for some of these therapies.

“As neurosurgeons, it is important for us to get tissue to the lab in every instance for us to understand what’s going on so that these children can have a chance,” said Boop.

For tumors that can’t be removed surgically but tissue is needed for diagnostics, biopsies provide better understanding and treatment of the tumor. Previously, neurosurgeons avoided these biopsies because it was believed that the cells required were closest to necrotic areas that could cause catastrophic complications. Better understanding of tumors means that the tumor can be biopsied in a safer area in order to obtain the molecular profile of the tumor.

“Molecular genetics has completed changed our field and will continue to do so,” said Boop. “There may come a time when the role for surgeons is much less than it is today.”

View Boop's full presentation below.

About Le Bonheur Children’s:

Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., treats children through community programs, regional clinics and a 255-bed state-of-the-art hospital. Le Bonheur serves as a primary teaching affiliate for the University Tennessee Health Science Center and trains more than 350 pediatricians and specialists each year. Nationally recognized, Le Bonheur is ranked by U.S. News & World Report as a Best Children’s Hospital. 

For more information, please call (901) 287-6030 or visit lebonheur.org. Connect with us at facebook.com/lebonheurchildrens, twitter.com/lebonheurchild or on Instagram at  lebonheurchildrens.


About University of Tennessee Health Science Center:

As Tennessee’s only public, statewide, academic health system, the mission of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center is to bring the benefits of the health sciences to the achievement and maintenance of human health through education, research, clinical care, and public service, with a focus on the citizens of Tennessee and the region. The main campus in Memphis includes six colleges: Dentistry, Graduate Health Sciences, Health Professions, Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy. UTHSC also educates and trains medicine, pharmacy, and/or health professions students, as well as medical residents and fellows, at major sites in Knoxville, Chattanooga and Nashville. For more information, visit www.uthsc.edu. Find us on Facebook: facebook.com/uthsc, on Twitter: twitter.com/uthsc and on Instagram: instagram.com/uthsc

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Posted: 2/16/21

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