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Researchers have used a detailed genetic analysis of the most common form of brain cancer in children (called medulloblastoma) to devise potentially new therapeutic strategies. If further tests confirm the findings, it could lead to novel treatments to mitigate the more severe side effects of cancer treatment.

Why it matters: Brain cancer in children is a profoundly difficult burden for both parents and doctors alike. The current medical treatments and therapies for this type of brain cancer in children have unpleasant side effects that can impair a child's quality of life following the treatments, the researchers wrote in Nature.

Compounding the problem is the fact that this type of cancer has several different genetic sub-types, which means that the current treatments are forced to take a "one-size-fits-all" approach with chemotherapy that leads to potentially toxic side effects. The new research should help scientists properly characterize each of these genetic sub-types, which in turn may allow for targeted chemotherapy treatment strategies that could minimize the toxic side effects.

What they found: The researchers looked at the genetic foundations and sequencing for 491 individual medulloblastoma cases; and at the expression of particular genes in another 1,256 cases. From there they were able to characterize all of the cancer sub-groups and the different genetic alterations associated with them. They even found several new sub-types that had not been previously identified, which they said shows this type of brain cancer in children should be considered a collection of diseases rather than just one cancer.

Go deeper

Off the Rails

Episode 4: Trump turns on Barr

Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photos: Drew Angerer, Pool/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. Axios takes you inside the collapse of a president with a special series.

Episode 4: Trump torches what is arguably the most consequential relationship in his Cabinet.

Attorney General Bill Barr stood behind a chair in the private dining room next to the Oval Office, looming over Donald Trump. The president sat at the head of the table. It was Dec. 1, nearly a month after the election, and Barr had some sharp advice to get off his chest. The president's theories about a stolen election, Barr told Trump, were "bullshit."

In photos: Protests outside fortified capitols draw only small groups

Armed members of the far-right extremist group the Boogaloo Bois near the Michigan Capitol Building in Lansing on Jan. 17. About 20 protesters showed up, AP notes. Photo: Seth Herald/AFP via Getty Images

Small groups of protesters gathered outside fortified statehouses across the U.S. over the weekend ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration Wednesday.

The big picture: Some protests attracted armed members of far-right extremist groups but there were no reports of clashes, as had been feared. The National Guard and law enforcement outnumbered demonstrators, as security was heightened around the U.S. to avoid a repeat of the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riots, per AP.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
8 hours ago - World

China's economy grows 6.5% in Q4 as country rebounds from coronavirus

A technician installs and checks service robots to be be used for food and medicine delivery in Jiaxing, Zhejiang Province, China, on Sunday. Photo: Hu Xuejun/VCG via Getty Images

China's economy grew at a 6.5% pace in the final quarter of 2020, the national statistics bureau announced Monday local time, topping off a year in which it grew in three of four quarters and by 2.3% in total.

Why it matters: No other major economy managed positive growth in 2020. Although the COVID-19 pandemic was first detected in China, the country got the virus under control and became one of the main positive drivers of the global economy even as the rest of the world was largely under lockdown.