Study could lead to new treatment options
Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG) is one of the most devastating childhood cancers, with mean survival times of a little more than a year. DIPG is a type of central nervous system cancer that is located in the pons section of the brain. The pons controls breathing and swallowing, as well as movement in the face and head, and arms and legs. DIPG tumors cannot be removed because they lack an identifiable border, and they take over a location in the brain necessary for survival.
DIPG is a very rare childhood cancer and primarily affects children between 3-10 years old. The cancer is treated aggressively with radiation but in the last 30 years, no other treatments have been shown to extend a child’s life beyond 1 to 2 years. Diagnosed by unique characteristics that appear on MRI, until recently there was very little DIPG tissue available for researchers to study. Thanks to new autopsy processes, in recent years researchers have begun to study DIPG tissue and in doing so have found that a specific gene mutation is present in about 70% of DIPG tumors.