Researchers from Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Dental Medicine, Children's Hospital Boston, and the de Duve Institute at the Catholique University of Louvain in Brussels, have for the first time, found the genes involved in the growth of the tumors known as infantile hemangiomas. Infantile hemangioma is the most common type of tumor which occurs during childhood.

Genes Responsible for Infantile Hemangioma:

Researchers studied nine different infantile hemangioma tumor tissues, They discovere that some type of cell known as endothelial cells, which were present within the tumor were derived from the abnormally and continuously dividing cells.

Researchers studied those endothelial cells which are derived from the abnormally dividing cell, they discovered that cells were activated by a growth hormone known as vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). Main function of this hormone is to activate the cell by binding to a particular receptor present in the cell membrane and this induces a signal to stop cell proliferation.

Researchers found that in this case that is in infantile hemangioma tumor tissues, showed at least two gene mutations in vascular endothelial growth factor gene. These gene mutations were able to induce a number of biochemical reactions inside the cell and this affected the receptors which were present in the cell membrane. This allows the VEGF to induce abnormal and continuous growth of these cells. This indicated that the two mutated form of gene vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) were involved in the uncontrolled and abnormal growth of endothelial cells and these results in infantile hemangioma tumor.

Importance of this Discovery:

Researchers say, learning and understanding more about the genetics of disease infantile hemangioma, may help in developing new therapeutic options. This will in turn improves the quality of life of children who were suffering fron this disease known as infantile hemangioma tumor.

Therapy which targets vascular endothelial growth factor, for example anti-VEGF therapy, can be used to treat this disease effectively and this therapy will also improve the quality of life of the patient with this type of cancer.

Infantile hemangioma cancer patients suffer from problems like:

1. Disfigurement causes psychological stress because of social challenges
2. Large tumors as a result of this disease cause some physical complications.
3. Infantile hemangioma tumor also causes vision obstruction in children with this disease.
4. This disease also causes problems with respiration.

An anti-VEGF therapy, that is all the therapies that help in blocking the production of growth hormone vascular endothelial growth factor, showed positive effect in treating other medical complications such as mascular degeneration and also can be used to treat certain types of cancer other than infantile hamangioma. At present anti-VEGF therapy is not approved by FDA to treat hemangioma tumor. But the result of this research will lead some pharmaceutical company or other research institute to take up clinical trial to test the efficacy and safety of anti-vascular endothelial growth factor therapy on tumor called as infantile hemangioma.

Future Research:

Infantile hemangioma tumors usually disappear, when children reach their puberty, but still we do not know the answers for a simple question how does this happen? Finding out an answer for this question may be helpful in effectively treating infantile hemangioma at its early stages.

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