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01.12.2019 | Review | Ausgabe 1/2019 Open Access

Journal of Hematology & Oncology 1/2019

Molecular markers and potential therapeutic targets in non-WNT/non-SHH (group 3 and group 4) medulloblastomas

Journal of Hematology & Oncology > Ausgabe 1/2019
Otília Menyhárt, Felice Giangaspero, Balázs Győrffy


Childhood medulloblastomas (MB) are heterogeneous and are divided into four molecular subgroups. The provisional non-wingless-activated (WNT)/non-sonic hedgehog-activated (SHH) category combining group 3 and group 4 represents over two thirds of all MBs, coupled with the highest rates of metastases and least understood pathology. The molecular era expanded our knowledge about molecular aberrations involved in MB tumorigenesis, and here, we review processes leading to non-WNT/non-SHH MB formations.
The heterogeneous group 3 and group 4 MBs frequently harbor rare individual genetic alterations, yet the emerging profiles suggest that infrequent events converge on common, potentially targetable signaling pathways. A mutual theme is the altered epigenetic regulation, and in vitro approaches targeting epigenetic machinery are promising. Growing evidence indicates the presence of an intermediate, mixed signature group along group 3 and group 4, and future clarifications are imperative for concordant classification, as misidentifying patient samples has serious implications for therapy and clinical trials.
To subdue the high MB mortality, we need to discern mechanisms of disease spread and recurrence. Current preclinical models do not represent the full scale of group 3 and group 4 heterogeneity: all of existing group 3 cell lines are MYC-amplified and most mouse models resemble MYC-activated MBs. Clinical samples provide a wealth of information about the genetic divergence between primary tumors and metastatic clones, but recurrent MBs are rarely resected. Molecularly stratified treatment options are limited, and targeted therapies are still in preclinical development. Attacking these aggressive tumors at multiple frontiers will be needed to improve stagnant survival rates.

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