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Robert Jenkins, M.D., Ph.D., Discusses Glioma Research on Mayo Clinic Radio

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On the June 27 broadcast of Mayo Clinic Radio, Robert Jenkins, M.D., Ph.D., was asked about his glioma research and the recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine on which Dr. Jenkins is the principal author. Mayo Clinic Radio is a one-hour radio show that highlights health and medical information from Mayo Clinic.

At the start of the show, co-hosts Tracy McCray and Tom Shives, M.D., spoke with Dr. Jenkins, a pathologist and specialist in laboratory genetics, about his team’s work on adult gliomas.

“One problem with adult gliomas is the pathologic diagnosis,” Dr. Jenkins told the hosts. “Some gliomas do well clinically; some do poorly. The pathologic diagnosis essentially puts patients into clinical groups and predicts what therapy each patient should receive. However, neuropathologists often disagree on the pathologic diagnosis of the tumors; it can be extremely challenging.”

Dr. Jenkins explained that his research looks at the genetics of gliomas. About 20 years ago, his laboratory found an alteration in glioma DNA. Then, about five years ago, two other laboratories discovered two more alterations. Dr. Jenkins’ team tested those three alterations and found that they could put the gliomas into DNA categories completely independent of the pathology.

“By just testing these three markers, we can predict the age of onset, the patient survival rate, and the alterations that the tumors acquire as they evolve,” said Dr. Jenkins, “And it is independent of the pathology and the grade. If we know the markers, we can put the tumors into definable molecular entities that can be treated differently.”

The radio hosts asked Dr. Jenkins what these findings mean for patients. “We can make recommendations on therapy now—direct treatment based on the pathology of tumor,” he explained. “I would encourage patients with gliomas to ask their physicians to send the tumors for these specific tests. We can perform these tests at Mayo Medical Laboratories, and we’re rolling out two large tests later this summer for this purpose.”

At the end of the interview, Dr. Jenkins wanted to thank several of his research partners. Among them were Mayo co-investigator on the study Dan Lachance, M.D., Neurology; Jeanette Eckel Passow, Ph.D., Biomedical Statistics and Informatics; and Margaret Wrensch, Ph.D., and her group from the University of California San Francisco. Dr. Jenkins noted that both he and Dr. Wrensch were each awarded one of only five brain tumor SPOREs (specialized programs of research excellence) from the National Cancer Institute, and their long-term collaboration has been instrumental in this research.

Listen to the Podcast To listen to the interview, the segment about Dr. Jenkin’s research begins at 01:05 and runs through 09:33. If you have time, the full show includes an interview with cancer researcher Richard Vile, Ph.D., about his work involving a young girl’s brain tumor and also orthopedic surgeon John Sperling, M.D., about rotator cuff injuries. The show ends with fireworks safety information from Mayo Clinic surgeon and trauma specialist Donald Jenkins, M.D.

Kelley Luedke

Kelley Luedke

Kelley Luedke is a Marketing Channel Manager at Mayo Clinic Laboratories. She is the principle editor and writer of Insights and leads social media and direct marketing strategy. Kelley has worked at Mayo Clinic since 2013. Outside of work, you can find Kelley running, traveling, playing with her kitty, and exploring new foods.