Genomic Profiling Improves Glioblastoma Treatment Outcomes

A majority of glioblastomas change their genomic profile during therapy, new research finds.

A 55-year-old woman with glioblastoma was kept alive for more than 5 years after physicians used genomic analyses to identify new mutations in the tumor and adjust treatment accordingly.

Glioblastoma is a deadly brain tumor with a median survival rate of only 15 months. Due to the aggressive nature of the disease, scientists have been working to extend the overall survival of patients and to improve treatment options.

In a study published in Genome Medicine, investigators used genomic analyses to identify alterations in gliomas.

“We were able to identify the molecular profile at each recurrence,” said senior author Dr Murat Günel. “The molecular make-up of the cancer changed after each treatment and with time, but we were able to adjust treatments based on those profiles”

The investigators used 3 separate genomic analyses, according to the study. The last genomic analysis revealed that the mutations of the cancer—–under selective pressure from targeted therapies––increased 30-fold. This allowed the patient to become a good candidate for immunotherapy.

Initially there was a response, but ultimately the cancer progressed.

In the current study, the investigators were able to extend the findings on this case to more than 100 other glioblastoma cases, resulting in the discovery that most glioblastomas change their genomic profile during therapy.

“These findings have significant implications for precision treatment of these tumors,” said first study author Dr Zeynep Erson Omay. “We now do a genetic analysis on every glioma surgically removed at Smillow Cancer Hospital during each recurrence or progression, comparing the molecular genomic profile to the original cancer to make treatment decisions.”

Dr Günel is hopefully that with new available drugs, there will start to be a real change in patient outcomes.