Everybody has seen those St. Jude’sChildren’s Research Hospital commercials, haven’t we? The ones that show the innocent children struggling with the effects of cancer, and cancer treatments, the ones who don’t have any hair but still have a smile on their face? There is almost always a sense of guilt or a gut-wrenching need to help those children live a better life, which is why donations are so important. But what if the need for the donations wasn’t required, and what if the children on the commercials weren’t suffering from cancer anymore? People all over the world would be sighing with relief!
With new breakthrough research, changes in a gene found in brain tumors are being discovered, and the information about these mutations can help lead to new treatments that can be used for a variety of other types of cancers.
Cancer is the abnormal growth of cells in the body, and can occur when genes stop working the way they are supposed to. Brain tumors, among other cancers, are debilitating, and in children and adolescents, treatments that work can be hard to find. Even though most cancers can be treated using chemotherapy and surgery, certain brain tumors in children do not react to treatments. Did you know that some treatments that are aimed for adults do not work on the growing cells of children and young adults? That’s okay if you didn’t, physicians are kind of just learning about that now too. By finding the differences in adult and children tumor cells and genes, and finding out the reasons why treatments are ineffective, cancer researchers are starting to focus their research on those differences, and breakthroughs are being made.
Some of the children seen on those St. Jude’s commercials may be dealing with a form of brain cancer that is called diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma. Definitely easier to call it DIPG, right? This type of brain tumor is found in children, and is mostly commonly diagnosed around the age of 6. DIPG is just a fancy word for a tumor found on the brain stem. The brain stem is the lowest part of the brain, and these tumors grow throughout the nerves, which makes surgery a risky choice.
The mutations that have been discovered are found on the gene histone H3.3. This gene is responsible for making sure important genetic information that is useful for development (DNA) gets put inside cells. The histone part of the gene is responsible for making sure the information is wrapped up tightly enough, and a mutation in that could either cause cancer or prevent cancer treatments from working because it affects whether or not the gene is working.
Even though breakthroughs are being discovered at a rapid speed, having a child diagnosed with a brain tumor is an unfortunate scenario. Children and adolescents who are diagnosed with these types of cancers almost never live two years after their diagnosis, even if they are getting the best treatments possible. That is one of the many reasons why St. Jude’s Hospital does the commercials, because no one wants to see a child suffer. With the many things happening in science and medicine these days, cancer may be conquerable someday!
For this post, I tried to use the hook approach, by talking about something that almost everyone has seen on TV, a commercial. Add in a commercial that talks about sick children, and discussing a way to prevent them from being so sick, adds in a touch that everyone can relate too. I also tried to limit the amount of scientific words, and if I had to talk about something, I put it into words that everyone should understand.
Science Daily Article
Science Daily Article