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Visualisation application leads to meningioma discovery

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Dr Bárbara Meléndez and her colleagues in the Unidad de Investigación de Patología Molecular (Molecular Pathology Research Unit) at Hospital Virgen de la Salud in Toledo, Spain, are using Qlucore Omics Explorer to investigate how generally benign meningiomas can start to exhibit the sort of histology and recurrence usually associated with more aggressive tumours.

Meléndez explained: ‘World Health Organisation (WHO) low grade meningiomas (grade I) and WHO high grade meningiomas (grades II and III) are different in their histopathlogy and prognosis. In particular most WHO grade I meningiomas are benign, while grade III (anaplastic) are aggressive. However, sometimes grade II is difficult to diagnose and is not always associated with a bad prognosis. So we are using Qlucore Omics Explorer in an effort to determine whether or not molecular analyses can be helpful in understanding prognosis – in terms of recurrence – and diagnosis.’

In order to do this, Meléndez and her team are using Qlucore Omics Explorer to perform gene expression and methylation analyses of brain tumour samples and then validating them with data from other databases such as The Cancer Genome Atlas (TGCA), GEO, Oncomine and Rembrandt. TGCA, for example, contains clinical information, genomic characterisation data, and high-throughput sequencing analysis of meningioma genomes. Rembrandt is a bioinformatics framework that hosts and integrates clinical and functional genomics data from clinical trials involving patients suffering from tumours known as gliomas.

The research has led to a discovery, as Meléndez explained: ‘Expression analyses allowed us to identify that meningiomas can be classified into an aggressive and a non-aggressive group – despite WHO classification criteria establishing three malignancy groups and about 15 histopathological subtypes.

‘These findings identify tumours that recur in the aggressive group, even if they have a benign histopathological diagnosis. Supervised analyses have allowed us to identify gene expression profiles associated with more aggressive tumours – findings that have been confirmed by analysing the methylation data with Qlucore.’