Episode 43: The Genomics of Brain Tumors

Floris Barthel

Floris Barthel M.D., Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
Cancer and Cell Biology Division

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Genomic analysis of a cancer tumor is fairly common these days. Researchers sequence and compare a patient’s non-cancerous DNA with their tumor DNA to identify changes that may allow a patient to receive medicine that specifically targets those changes. But what happens when the tumor comes back? Has the tumor changed? And if so, how?
These were questions that intrigued TGen Assistant Professor Floris Barthel, M.D. In particular, his latest research focuses on the effects of radiotherapy on the cancer tumor. What is different in the DNA of the first tumor compared to the normal DNA, and what is different in the DNA of the second tumor compared to the first tumor? How does treatment affect the DNA of these tumors over time?
On this episode of TGen Talks, Dr. Barthel discusses how his work has shown that radiotherapy, while highly beneficial, appears to create breaks in the DNA and instead of dying, the cancer cell repairs itself, which alters the tumor make-up upon recurrence. He cautions there is still much to discover, but if successful, it could help identify those relapsed patients resistant to further radiotherapy and allow treating physicians to suggest an alternate course of treatment.