Two genes linked to ameloblastomas, tumors of the jaw, are reported in a paper published online this week in Nature Genetics. The results suggest promising treatment options for these destructive jaw tumors.
Ameloblastomas are rare, benign tumors that often lead to facial disfigurement. Robert West and colleagues identified two genes, SMO and BRAF, that are often mutated in ameloblastomas. In their samples, tumors of the upper jaw tended to have SMO mutations, whereas the lower jaw tumors tended to have BRAF mutations. For each gene, the researchers identified an FDA-approved drug that can inhibit the mutant form in human cells. More testing is needed to see if these drugs can help ameloblastoma patients.