A New Sprint for Summer ’17

Building on the success of last year’s “Summer Sprint,” the Children’s Brain Tumor Project has initiated several new projects that take advantage of summer grants as well as the additional resources we now have available through Dr. Dahmane’s laboratory.

Dennis Lee joins Dr. Souweidane’s team thanks to a summer grant from the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. Dennis will be investigating drugs that are known to work against androgen-receptor and aromatase-driven prostate and breast cancers, and that show surprising promise against DIPG. Dennis will focus on understanding why these drugs work, since there has not been any previous link between DIPG and androgen-receptor and aromatase. If successful, this work would validate the drugs for further study and could make FDA-approved drugs available for clinical trials for children with DIPG.

Jared Bassett returns to the lab this year to continue the work he started with Dr. Greenfield last summer on immunoglobulin superfamily member 3 (IgSF3) and its role in glioma invasiveness. IgSF3 has been identified by the Greenfield lab as possibly playing a role in how tumors spread throughout healthy tissue in the brain. Dr. Greenfield’s lab is engaged in a number of projects to investigate the function of this gene in invasive brain cancers like gliomatosis cerebri.

Staff researcher Melanie Schweitzer was awarded a POST grant from the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation in support of her current project. Melanie is working with members of Dr. Michael Kaplitt’s molecular neurosurgery lab testing the use of focused ultrasound to sculpt the infusion pattern of drugs delivered via convection enhanced delivery (CED). This strategy may prove helpful in achieving better drug coverage of highly diffuse and infiltrative tumors such as DIPG. The ability to alter the drug distribution pattern once an infusion catheter has been placed may allow a surgeon to encapsulate a diffuse tumor in a patient who might otherwise require multiple catheters or additional surgery. Melanie has already acquired some exciting preliminary results and she is working hard this summer to collect and analyze more data.