Applications of Genomic Sequencing in Pediatric CNS Tumors

Oncology (Williston Park). 2016 May;30(5):411-23.


Recent advances in genome-scale sequencing methods have resulted in a significant increase in our understanding of the biology of human cancers. When applied to pediatric central nervous system (CNS) tumors, these remarkable technological breakthroughs have facilitated the molecular characterization of multiple tumor types, provided new insights into the genetic basis of these cancers, and prompted innovative strategies that are changing the management paradigm in pediatric neuro-oncology. Genomic tests have begun to affect medical decision making in a number of ways, from delineating histopathologically similar tumor types into distinct molecular subgroups that correlate with clinical characteristics, to guiding the addition of novel therapeutic agents for patients with high-risk or poor-prognosis tumors, or alternatively, reducing treatment intensity for those with a favorable prognosis. Genomic sequencing has also had a significant impact on translational research strategies in pediatric CNS tumors, resulting in wide-ranging applications that have the potential to direct the rational preclinical screening of novel therapeutic agents, shed light on tumor heterogeneity and evolution, and highlight differences (or similarities) between pediatric and adult CNS tumors. Finally, in addition to allowing the identification of somatic (tumor-specific) mutations, the analysis of patient-matched constitutional (germline) DNA has facilitated the detection of pathogenic germline alterations in cancer genes in patients with CNS tumors, with critical implications for genetic counseling and tumor surveillance strategies for children with familial predisposition syndromes. As our understanding of the molecular landscape of pediatric CNS tumors continues to advance, innovative applications of genomic sequencing hold significant promise for further improving the care of children with these cancers.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics*
  • Central Nervous System Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Central Nervous System Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Central Nervous System Neoplasms / mortality
  • Central Nervous System Neoplasms / pathology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • DNA Mutational Analysis*
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Genomics / methods*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy
  • Mutation*
  • Patient Selection
  • Phenotype
  • Precision Medicine
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prognosis


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Biomarkers, Tumor