The biology of pediatric brain tumors had remained a mystery until recent years, and genetic data was too scarce to leverage in designing individualized treatment protocols. Yet the current treatment protocols for pediatric brain tumors were failing—and in many cases they still are.
Drs. Greenfield and Souweidane had the answers in their hands, literally, and although they knew it would take time and patience, they committed to (1) making sure that the rare brain tumors they biopsied or resected would be sequenced and data would be shared, and (2) exploring surgical approaches as a means to bypass the blood-brain barrier and deliver drugs directly to the tumors that otherwise can’t be surgically removed.
Today their research lab places an emphasis on rare and inoperable pediatric brain malignancies. They have grown a library of successful cell lines and developed robust in vitro methods to study the behavior of glial cells, neural stem cells, and cancer cells. In vivo methods are also allowing the team to understand the tumor microenvironment as a whole and perform an array of drug testing and delivery methods against various tumor types in animal models. All of this information comes full circle as discoveries in the lab may lend themselves to new treatments that are most effective when delivered via innovative surgical procedures.