Advances in the genetics of glioblastoma: are we reaching critical mass?

Nat Rev Neurol. 2009 Aug;5(8):419-26. doi: 10.1038/nrneurol.2009.96. Epub 2009 Jul 14.


Glioblastoma is the most common and highest-grade brain tumor, causing over 10,000 deaths each year in the US alone. Given the resistance of this tumor to standard surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, an understanding of the underlying genetic lesions is vital. Recent efforts to comprehensively profile glioblastomas using the latest technologies, both by The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) project and by other groups, are addressing this need. Some genetic aberrations in glioblastoma have been known for decades, but early output from the new profiling initiatives has further illuminated the relevant genetics in this disease. Some genetic lesions, such as TP53 mutation, NF1 deletion or mutation, and ERBB2 amplification, have been found to be more common than was previously reported. New and unexpected discoveries have also been made, such as frequent mutations of the IDH1 and IDH2 genes in secondary glioblastoma. We might be tempted to speculate that we are approaching a comprehensive knowledge of the genetic lesions involved in glioblastoma, although other major discoveries doubtless remain to be made. In addition, the complex task of incorporating our updated knowledge into new--and possibly personalized--therapies for patients with glioblastoma still lies ahead.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease / genetics*
  • Glioblastoma / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Isocitrate Dehydrogenase / genetics
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / genetics


  • TP53 protein, human
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53
  • IDH2 protein, human
  • Isocitrate Dehydrogenase
  • IDH1 protein, human