Brain Tumor Typing and Brain Tumor Bank


Brain cancer is a complex disease, and some brain tumors are very aggressive. Knowing as much as possible about your specific tumor can help your care team determine which treatments may be the most effective. One powerful diagnostic tool is brain tumor typing, which is an important part of your personalized treatment plan. We have a team of specialized brain tumor pathologists (neuro-pathologists) to perform and interpret the most advanced brain tumor tissue tests.

Brain tumor typing

Your DNA includes a unique genetic makeup, determining who you are as an individual. In some cases, your DNA also can provide clues on how to target your specific brain tumor. Researchers have found that certain genes may indicate how a tumor will respond to specific therapies -- for example, when considering the chemotherapy drug Avastin® to treat a glioblastoma, the most common and deadly type of brain cancer.

Through brain tumor typing -- genetic and pathological testing of your brain tumor -- we can look for specific markers that may be causing tumor growth.
Knowing more about the genetic makeup of your tumor may increase the likelihood of success for a particular treatment.

Brain tumor bank

In addition to conducting personalized tumor typing studies that help guide treatment decisions, every brain tumor removed at the Hermelin Brain Tumor Center is preserved in one of the largest tumor banks in the United States:

  • A tumor bank, also known as a tissue bank, collects samples that help provide more insight into tumor mechanisms.
  • The Henry Ford tumor bank is one of the three largest in the world, containing more than 3,000 tissue samples.
  • The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), a national cooperative of academic medical centers sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), was a major contributor. 
  • The TCGA was started in 2007 to analyze brain tissue samples and chart genomic changes in 20 different types of cancer.
  • The Hermelin Brain Tumor Center contributed 40 percent of the 500 glioblastoma tissues collected for analysis by the NIH.

Brain tumor bank research

In addition to this collaborative study, we use our tumor bank samples in research conducted at the Hermelin Brain Tumor Center:

Our research is focused on acquiring molecular data from glioblastoma and other aggressive brain tumors.

A large-scale analysis of our tumor bank specimens is underway. This study seeks to determine which genetic factors present in tumor cells may or may not be responsible for some people achieving long-term survival versus those who do not fare as well -- even though they have the same pathology, demographics and tumor features.

Ultimately, our brain tumor typing research is documented in published studies that show how this genetic analysis could improve treatment outcomes and improve quality of life.

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