Causes of DIPG
Researchers do not yet know what causes DIPG. Like most cancers, DIPG occurs when something goes wrong with the process of cell reproduction. However, unlike many other cancers, there is no evidence that indicates DIPG is caused by environmental factors (exposure to chemicals or radiation), or specific inherited genetic variations.
Understanding What Cancer Is
Cells use DNA, the building blocks of genes, in order to carry out various functions, including making more cells. Sometimes pieces of DNA become damaged or are copied incorrectly. Scientists call this a mutation. Usually, cells with mutations in their DNA either repair the mutation or die (a process called apoptosis). Sometimes, though, cells with mutations can’t be repaired and don’t die like they are supposed to. In certain cases, these mutated cells begin to divide quickly, which may cause a person to develop cancer.
Gaining A Better Understanding of DIPG
Due to the increase in availability of tumor specimens through the DIPG Registry, our understanding of the biology of DIPG has advanced considerably in recent years. Researchers have begun to understand the exact genetic mutations involved with DIPG through the use of genetic sequencing. They have discovered the most common mutations involved in DIPG, and are now working to better understand these mutations, in order to engineer new drugs or repurpose preexisting drugs that will be able to effectively treat DIPG.
A Word on Clustering
DIPG Clustering is often cited in many locations around the world. More often than not, this appearance of clustering can be attributed to the institutions that diagnose DIPG and those that actively report it to the largest DIPG database in the world, the International DIPG Registry. Still, it is possible that environmental conditions can create clustering phenomena; however, the only way to properly identify this will be through the DIPG Registry.
Currently there are 110 sites (both active and in process) from 15 countries* participating in the International DIPG Registry. As it does not capture data from all patients diagnosed with DIPG across the world, the Registry cannot accurately address the issue of the possible existence of geographic clusters. The DIPG Registry is working hard to include as many sites as possible with the hope to answer this question in the following years.
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