Gene expression test offers better treatment for brain tumor

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Meningiomas, a common form of brain tumor, often require a combination of surgery and radiation therapy for treatment.

However, the side effects of radiation can be severe, prompting the need for a more accurate method to determine which patients truly benefit from this treatment.

Researchers at UC San Francisco and Northwestern Medicine have developed a highly accurate gene expression test that can predict the best treatment strategy for meningioma patients.

This advancement has the potential to change the course of treatment for many individuals, reducing unnecessary radiation exposure.

Challenges in Meningioma Treatment

Meningiomas, which primarily affect female, Black, and elderly patients, grow slowly and may cause neurological symptoms. The current treatment approach involves surgery to remove the tumor followed by radiation therapy to prevent regrowth.

The decision to administer radiation therapy is typically based on tumor grading by pathologists, but this method is not always precise, leading to uncertainties about its necessity.

A New Approach: Gene Expression Test

The research team aimed to improve treatment decisions by analyzing the gene expression patterns of meningiomas.

By evaluating which genes are turned on and off within the tumor, they sought to predict tumor aggressiveness more accurately.

This approach, akin to existing gene expression tests for other cancers, has the potential to provide a cost-effective and precise alternative to the current grading system.

Key Findings

The study analyzed gene expression patterns in samples from 1,856 meningioma patients across multiple medical centers.

The researchers identified a set of 34 genes whose expression patterns could predict tumor recurrence.

Approximately 20% of Grade 1 tumors, which are less aggressive, showed gene expression patterns indicating potential regrowth and may benefit from radiation therapy.

Around 40% of patients with more aggressive Grade 2 and 3 tumors did not experience recurrence, and this could also be predicted through gene expression analysis.

Personalized Treatment Based on Gene Expression

The gene expression test allows for personalized treatment decisions, reducing the guesswork in determining who should receive radiation therapy.

This advancement has the potential to minimize radiation-associated toxicity and ensure that patients receive treatments that are likely to be beneficial.

Future Directions: The research team plans to validate this approach in clinical trials currently in development. This will further refine the gene expression test’s utility in guiding treatment decisions for meningioma patients.

Ultimately, this innovation promises to improve the quality and quantity of life for individuals diagnosed with this common brain tumor.


The gene expression test for meningiomas offers a promising path toward more personalized and effective treatment strategies.

By assessing gene activity within tumors, healthcare providers can make more informed decisions, reducing the risk of overtreatment and improving patient outcomes.

This research represents a significant step forward in brain tumor care, with the potential to benefit a substantial portion of affected individuals.

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The research findings can be found in Nature Medicine.

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