Noninvasive Technique Could Allow Earlier Intervention and Improve Outcomes in Pediatric Medulloblastoma

A collaborative research study has discovered the effective use of magnetic resonance spectroscopy in the noninvasive diagnosis and molecular characterization of brain tumors in children.

A collaborative research study has discovered the effective use of magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) in the noninvasive diagnosis and molecular characterization of brain tumors in children. This tool has the potential for early intervention and precision therapy.

MRS can adequately characterize tumor without the need for a biopsy. The authors of this study published in Neuro-Oncology evaluated the hypothesis that MRS-based metabolite concentrations could be used to differentiate between the molecular subgroups of medulloblastoma (SHH, Groups 3/4, WNT). Levels of 14 metabolites were measured in frozen tissue samples of 30 patients. Group 3 and 4 tumors had metabolic profiles with detectable taurine, low levels of lipids, and high levels of creatinine. SHH tumors had prominent choline and lipid with low levels of creatinine and minimal or no taurine.

Based on these results, the authors developed a classification system of 5 metabolites to discriminate between Group 3/4 and SHH medulloblastomas. This technique, if validated, could allow for earlier intervention without having to wait for surgery and analysis of the tumor tissue, which is the current norm. Earlier subgroup determination could significantly improve outcomes by permitting the use of precision therapy.

“MR spectroscopy is widely available, noninvasive and provides information on cellular metabolism, which is different in healthy and diseased tissue,” said Stefan Bluml, PhD, investigator at The Saban Research Institute of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and first author of the study in an interview.