AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 29, Number 2, 2020


To Understand a Childhood Brain Tumor, Researchers Turn to Single-Cell Analysis

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Investigators at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital, alongside others, have revealed the cells of origin for specific subtypes of medulloblastoma, the most common malignant pediatric brain tumor. The work also has implications for how medulloblastoma is classified, which may eventually shape clinical care.

This study is the most in-depth analysis to date of medulloblastoma using single-cell RNAseq technology. The findings shed light on the relationship between the four known subtypes of medulloblastoma. Additionally, the researchers suggest a previously unknown cell of origin for the understudied Group 4 subgroup.

“The ability to look at individual cells has propelled us 10 steps forward in our understanding of how the subtypes of medulloblastoma arise, what drives them and how we can make treatments more effective for patients,” said co-senior author Paul Northcott, Ph.D., of the St. Jude Department of Developmental Neurobiology.

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