A trial looking at the genetic causes of brain tumours - National Brain Tumour (NBT) Study

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Cancer type:

Brain (and spinal cord) tumours

Status:

Results

Phase:

Other

This study looked at blood samples to find out more about the genetic causes of brain tumours.

More about this trial

There are several risk factors associated with developing brain tumours. There are some inherited conditions that we know increase risk, but these are quite rare. 

Doctors want to find other genetic changes (mutations) that may increase the risk of brain tumours, and may be slightly more common. They hope that in the future this could help diagnose brain tumours earlier, and help develop new treatments.

In this study, the research team collected blood samples from people who had brain tumours, and people who didn’t. They compared the genetic changes in the two groups to help identify differences that may affect someone’s risk of developing a brain tumour. 

Summary of results

The research team found some inherited genetic changes which they think may increase a person’s risk of developing a brain tumour.
 
This study was open for people to join between 2007 and 2015, and the researchers first published results in 2015. 
 
About this study
Researchers looked at samples from 3,000 people in this study alongside samples from people in other studies. 
 
One research team looked at samples from:
  • 5,637 people who had a brain tumour
  • 9,158 people who didn’t have a brain tumour
Another research team looked at samples from:
  • 12,496 people who had a brain tumour
  • 18,190 people who didn’t have a brain tumour
They compared genetic changes to see if they could find any which seem to be linked to developing a brain tumour. 
 
Results
The first team found 5 genetic changes which they think may increase the risk of developing a brain tumour. This included:
  • 1 linked to a type of brain tumour called a glioblastoma
  • 4 linked to non glioblastoma brain tumours
They concluded that genetic changes are likely to increase the risk for specific types of brain tumours, rather than all brain tumours. And that they have found some genetic changes linked to brain tumours which may be inherited.
 
The second team found 13 genetic changes which may be linked to developing a brain tumour. This included:
  • 5 linked to glioblastoma
  • 8 linked to non glioblastoma brain tumours
It is likely that someone would need several of these changes to have an increased risk. One change on its own is not likely to affect a person’s risk very much. When there is more than one gene change that increases the risk, researchers call it polygenic susceptibility. 
 
They concluded that different genetic changes are likely to be linked to specific types of brain tumour. And that researchers need to look at cell proteins alongside genetic changes, to find out more about the risk of different cancers.
 
Conclusion 
The research teams found a number of new possible genetic links to brain tumours. They estimate that they now know about genetic changes which account for:
  • just over a quarter of the inherited risk (27%) of developing glioblastoma
  • more than a third of the inherited risk (between 37% and 43%) of developing non glioblastoma
They suggest that more work is done, and that research teams around the world work together to find out more about the inherited risk of brain tumours. This will hopefully lead to the development of new treatments.
 
Where this information comes from
We have based this summary on information from the research team. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (peer reviewed Open a glossary item) and published in a medical journal. The figures we quote above were provided by the trial team who did the research. We have not analysed the data ourselves.

Recruitment start:

Recruitment end:

How to join a clinical trial

Please note: In order to join a trial you will need to discuss it with your doctor, unless otherwise specified.

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Chief Investigator

Professor Richard Houlston

Supported by

Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC)
Institute of Cancer Research (ICR)
NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer
National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI)
National Institutes of Health (NIH)

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Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:

2693

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Rhys was only four years old when he was diagnosed with a brain tumour

A picture of Rhys

"He went through six operations and was placed on a clinical trial so he could try new treatments.”

Last reviewed:

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