Brain cancer and leukemia: new molecular mechanisms decoded

IRM of a brain's tumor.

IRM of a brain's tumor.

Credit: Thinkstock

In 5 seconds

A joint research published today in Nature Communications has shown new molecular causes of brain cancer and leukemia.

Brain cancer and leukemia are two potentially fatal diseases that affect thousands of Canadians each year. But a joint study conducted by researchers Frederick Antoine Mallette, of the Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital Research Centre and the University of Montreal, and Marc-Étienne Huot, of Laval University, and published in the prestigious scientific journal Nature Communications has uncovered new molecular causes of brain cancer and leukemia.

We already knew the existence of a mutation phenomenon involving certain metabolic enzymes called isocitrate dehydrogenases 1 and 2 (IDH1/2) in various forms of brain cancer, including gliomas and glioblastomas, and in acute myeloid leukemia. Although the mutated forms of IDH1/2 appear to contribute to cancer formation, until now we had only limited understanding of the ways in which these metabolic defects caused cancer. Research conducted by Mélissa Carbonneau, a master’s student in Professor Mallette’s laboratory, has helped to better understand the effect of IDH1/2 mutations in cancer by demonstrating their role in activating the pathways involved in cell proliferation and survival.

“With the identification of the molecular modes of action that contribute to cancer in patients carrying IDH1/2 mutations, it is now possible to consider personalized treatment to potentially improve therapeutic response,” said Dr. Mallette.

Some statistics

It is estimated that in 2015, 3,000 Canadians were diagnosed with brain and spinal cord cancer, and 6,200 Canadians were diagnosed with leukemia.

Research funding

The study was conducted with funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Canada Research Chairs program, the Cole Foundation, the Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital Research Centre, and the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Santé.

About the CIUSSS de l'Est-de l'Île-de-Montréal

The Centre intégré universitaire de santé et de services sociaux de l'Est-de-l'Île-de-Montréal (CIUSSS-EMTL) encompasses 26 facilities and serves a population of more than 500,000 Montrealers. Affiliated with the Université de Montréal, it offers a complete range of frontline healthcare and social services, housing services, and general, specialized, and superspecialized hospital services and mental health care. Thanks to its two research centres and its four pillars of excellence in mental health, immuno-hematology, eye healthcare and nephrology, the CIUSSS-EMTL is a leader in health innovation in Canada. Its teams´ innovative ideas contribute to its national and international reach.

Media contact