Jul 20, 2017

Scientists identify the different genes behind common childhood brain cancer

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.

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The wreckage of summer

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

We usually think of Memorial Day as the start of the summer, with all of the fun and relaxation that goes with it — but this one is just going to remind us of all of the plans that have been ruined by the coronavirus.

Why it matters: If you thought it was stressful to be locked down during the spring, just wait until everyone realizes that all the traditional summer activities we've been looking forward to are largely off-limits this year.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 5,410,228 — Total deaths: 345,105 — Total recoveries — 2,169,005Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 1,643,499 — Total deaths: 97,722 — Total recoveries: 366,736 — Total tested: 14,163,915Map.
  3. World: White House announces travel restrictions on Brazil, coronavirus hotspot in Southern Hemisphere Over 100 coronavirus cases in Germany tied to single day of church services — Boris Johnson backs top aide amid reports that he broke U.K. lockdown while exhibiting symptoms.
  4. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks headed into Memorial Day weekend Report finds "little evidence" coronavirus under control in most statesHurricanes, wildfires, the flu could strain COVID-19 response
  5. Economy: White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election — Public employees brace for layoffs.
  6. Federal government: Trump attacks a Columbia University study that suggests earlier lockdown could have saved 36,000 American lives.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

The CDC is warning of potentially "aggressive rodent behavior" amid a rise in reports of rat activity in several areas, as the animals search further for food while Americans stay home more during the coronavirus pandemic.

By the numbers: More than 97,700 people have died from COVID-19 and over 1.6 million have tested positive in the U.S. Over 366,700 Americans have recovered and more than 14.1 million tests have been conducted.