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Arthur & Sonia Labatt Brain Tumour Research Centre

BTRC News 2002

BTRC News from 2002

Researchers identify gene for most common paediatric malignant brain tumour

TORONTO - Researchers at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), the University Health Network (UHN), and the University of Toronto (U of T) have identified a novel gene that when mutated results in medulloblastoma, the most common malignant brain tumour found in children. This research is reported in the July issue of the scientific journal Nature Genetics.

Brain tumours are the second most common cancer in children after leukemia, with the incidence increasing at a rate of five to 10 per cent per year. More than 200 Canadian children are diagnosed with brain tumours each year, with approximately 100 new cases at The Hospital for Sick Children alone. Despite advances in treatment, survival from brain tumours remains lower than for other forms of cancer. Medulloblastoma, a malignant tumour that occurs in the cerebellum, accounts for 20 per cent of all paediatric brain tumours. It is a rapidly growing tumour that is more common in boys than girls. more information

SickKids attracts new head of Cancer Research and leading stem cell researcher

TORONTO - The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) has attracted two prominent scientists to its Research Institute - David Kaplan and Freda Miller. The husband and wife team recently arrived in Toronto from the Montreal Neurological Institute and McGill University.

"The faculty at SickKids are among the best in the world. As an American, I felt that the quality of research, the willingness of Canadians to work together, and the potential for breakthroughs at HSC and in the Toronto scientific community are as good as the best centres in the US such as Harvard and Stanford," said Kaplan, a senior scientist and the new head of Cancer Research in the HSC Research Institute. Kaplan and Miller also hold appointments as Professors in the Department of Molecular and Medical Genetics and the Institute of Medical Science at the University of Toronto. more information

Visiting Scientist


Wiesia Grajkowska, MD, PhD is a consulting pathologist and the head of the Immunocytochemistry unit at the department of Pathology at Children's Memorial Health Institute in Warsaw, Poland. She is participating in a two-month visit with the BRTC.

For the past ten years, Grajkowska has been working as a clinical pathologist focusing on both adult and child neuropathology with specific interests in the pathology of paediatric brain tumours. Her laboratory and clinical research addresses the expression of cell cycle regulatory proteins in brain tumours including medulloblastoma.

Grajkowska's aim is to establish a relationship between phenotypic expression of these proteins and possible impact on survival expectancy, response to treatment with respect to possible chemotherapy/radiotherapy resistance, and classification of suitable clinical risk groups defined by specific expression patterns of the these proteins.

Through their shared interest in paediatric brain tumours, Grajkowska and Rutka, SickKids senior scientist, started to collaborate three years ago. At that time, Grajkowska provided frozen tissue samples of various types of paediatric brain tumours to the BRTC. To date, Grajkowska has collected a total of 3000 tumour specimens.

As a result of this ongoing collaboration, Dr Grajkowska was invited for a two-month visit to the BTRC to acquire some hands-on experience with new techniques in molecular biology. At the BTRC she has learned cDNA microarray analysis which she will profile the expression of various genes in paediatric brain tumours.