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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/26312

Title: Genomic Characterization of Medulloblastoma
Authors: Northcott, Paul A.
Advisor: Taylor, Michael
Rutka, James T.
Department: Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology
Keywords: Medulloblastoma
Genomics
Cancer
Bioinformatics
Issue Date: 22-Feb-2011
Abstract: Medulloblastoma is the most common malignant pediatric brain tumour. Although survival rates have improved in recent years, long-term survivors exhibit a significantly diminished quality of life complicated by neurological, endocrine, intellectual, and social sequelae as a result of conventional therapies. In order to improve the current outlook for patients with medulloblastoma, rational, targeted therapies that are more efficient and less toxic are required. Despite insight gained from the study of hereditary tumour syndromes and candidate gene approaches, the molecular basis of medulloblastoma remains poorly defined, with more than half of all cases remaining unaccounted for at the genetic level. The intent of my PhD research program was to use high-resolution genomics in an attempt to gain an improved understanding of the medulloblastoma genome and potentially uncover novel genes and pathways driving its pathogenesis. By applying a combination of single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) arrays, exon arrays, and microRNA arrays to a large cohort of primary medulloblastoma samples, we have identified novel oncogenes and tumour suppressors, implicated deregulation of the histone code as an important event in the pathogenesis of medulloblastoma, and refined the definition of medulloblastoma subgroups. This thesis demonstrates the extent of heterogeneity that exists in the medulloblastoma genome, showing that relatively few genomic aberrations are common when studying medulloblastoma as a single disease. In spite of this heterogeneity, we have identified novel candidate genes and processes that may serve as potential targets for future therapies. Importantly, we have established an improved method of classifying medulloblastomas into distinct molecular variants, showing that certain genomic changes are enriched and occasionally restricted to a specific subgroup. Finally, in addition to genomic differences, we have confirmed that medulloblastoma subgroups differ in their demographics and clinical behavior, and propose that medulloblastoma subgroup affiliation should become an integral component of patient stratification in the future.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/26312
Appears in Collections:Doctoral

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