Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Hamartoma Syndromes

In June, 2014, my book, entitled Rare Diseases and Orphan Drugs: Keys to Understanding and Treating the Common Diseases was published by Elsevier. The book builds the argument that our best chance of curing the common diseases will come from studying and curing the rare diseases.

The book has an extensive glossary, that explains the meaning and relevance of medical terms appearing throughout the chapters. The glossary can be read as a stand-along document. Here is an example of one term, "hamartoma", excerpted from the glossary.
Hamartoma - Hamartomas are benign tumors that occupy a peculiar zone lying between neoplasia (i.e., a clonal expansion of an abnormal cell) and hyperplasia (i.e., the localized overgrowth of a tissue). Some hamartomas are composed of tissues derived from several embryonic lineages (e.g., ectodermal tissues mixed with mesenchymal tissue). This is almost never the case in cancers, which are clonally derived neoplasms wherein every cell is derived from a single embryonic lineage. Tuberous sclerosis is an inherited hamartoma syndrome. The pathognomonic lesion in tuberous sclerosis is the brain tuber, from which the syndrome takes its name. Tubers of the brain consist of localized but poorly demarcated malformations of neuronal and glial cells. Like other hamartoma syndromes, the germline mutation in tuberous sclerosis produces benign hamartomas as well as carcinomas, indicating that hamartomas and cancers are biologically related. Hamartomas and cancers associated with tuberous sclerosis include cortical tubers of brain, retinal astrocytoma, cardiac rhabdomyoma, lymphangiomyomatosis (very rarely), facial angiofibroma, white ash leaf-shaped macules, subcutaneous nodules, cafe-au-lait spots, subungual fibromata, myocardial rhabdomyoma, multiple bilateral renal angiomyolipoma, ependymoma, renal carcinoma, subependymal giant cell astrocytoma [62].

Another genetic condition associated with hamartomas is Cowden syndrome, also known as multiple hamartoma syndrome. Cowden syndrome is associated with a loss of function mutation in PTEN, a tumor suppressor gene. Features that may be encountered are macrocephaly, intestinal hamartomatous polyps, benign hamartomatous skin tumors (multiple trichilemmomas, papillomatous papules, and acral keratoses), dysplastic gangliocytoma of the cerebellum, and a predisposition to cancers of the breast, thyroid and endometrium.

I urge you to read more about my book. There's a good preview of the book at the Google Books site. If you like the book, please request your librarian to purchase a copy of this book for your library or reading room.

- Jules J. Berman, Ph.D., M.D. tags: rare disease, genetic disease, orphan disease, orphan drugs, types of cancer, tumor biology, rare cancers, hyperplasia, tissue overgrowth, carcinogenesis, glossary