Meningiomas are the most common primary brain tumor, affecting nearly 1% of the population. Although most meningiomas are slowly growing benign tumors, between 10 and 20% are more aggressive lesions that can recur or progress to a malignant state, resulting in significant disability or death. Surprisingly, however, little is known about the molecular factors contributing to aggressive clinical behavior in meningiomas. To investigate this matter, Dr. Johnson’s laboratory is performing high resolution DNA and RNA genomic analyses of primary human meningiomas of all grades.
Preliminary studies have revealed the presence of novel genomic alterations affecting numerous oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes in meningiomas. Interestingly, many of these genes are related to the PI-3 kinase/AKT growth regulatory pathway, and contribute to the growth of these tumors. In addition, Dr. Johnson’s team is studying these very large data sets to identify predictors of aggressive clinical behavior in meningiomas that otherwise look benign under the microscope. An increased understanding of the molecular basis for aggressive clinical behavior in meningiomas may lead to the identification of new factors that are useful for prognosis and therapy.