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From the source: New findings on the biological processes behind neuroblastoma risk differences

September 7, 2023

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Specific patterns of DNA alterations in neuroblastoma cells reflect the varying aggressiveness of this pediatric tumor

Researchers from Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin and the Max Delbrück Center have new insights into the biology of neuroblastoma to report. In this section, they answer questions about their research findings.

What was the research question or scientific inquiry behind your study?

Neuroblastoma cells © Charité | Lotte Brückner
Analysis of the patterns of DNA alterations in neuroblastoma cells (above) allows identification of the biological processes active in this tumor. © Charité | Lotte Brückner

Our research has focused on improving our understanding of why children diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a type of pediatric tumor, experience variations in their chances of survival and how their tumors change over time.

How did you approach the topic? 

We investigated all the different types of DNA changes that occur in children diagnosed with benign, moderately aggressive, and highly aggressive neuroblastoma. Our goal was to identify which biological processes within the tumor cells are responsible for these DNA changes, and whether the activities of these processes differ depending on the aggressiveness of the tumor.

What did you discover? 

We discovered that specific processes in the cells were more active in some children with neuroblastoma than in others, reflecting their chances of survival. Patients with benign tumors have DNA changes that are mostly due to errors in chromosome distribution when their cells divide. On the other hand, patients with moderately aggressive neuroblastomas show changes in their DNA that happen mostly because of malfunctioning DNA repair mechanisms. In highly aggressive neuroblastomas, DNA modifications are primarily linked to complications in DNA replication during cell division.

What’s your takeaway?

These findings provide valuable insights into the complex landscape of neuroblastoma and enhance our understanding of the variations in its development and disease progression patterns. This, in turn, lays the foundation for more informed and precisely targeted therapeutic interventions.