Title: Plasma tumor-specific DNA as a biomarker for glioma
Principal Investigator: Kyle D. Weaver, M.D.
Recent advances in brain tumor research suggest the imminent development of effective treatments. Unfortunately, our ability to safely and accurately diagnose brain tumors and evaluate treatment response lags behind. It is imperative that these diagnostic deficiencies be corrected in concert with treatment advances.
It is well known that many cancers secrete their genetic material (DNA) into the blood. This DNA carries a unique tumor “fingerprint” and is not found a healthy person’s blood. It can be used to estimate amount of tumor, assess treatment response, and predict survival in some cancers, and only requires a blood draw, but has not been evaluated in brain tumors. We have demonstrated that brain tumors shed their unique DNA into the blood just as other tumors do.
We plan to develop this tumor-specific DNA in the blood into a biomarker to assist with the diagnosis of tumors and assess the response to therapy. To do so, we will identify patients needing an operation to remove a brain tumor. A piece of tumor will be removed for genetic fingerprinting and a blood sample taken to determine if it contains brain tumor DNA also. If so, the patient will be followed with MRI scans and blood draws. The type and amount of brain tumor DNA in the blood will be correlated with the patient’s clinical condition, amount of tumor on MRI, and survival. This will allow the development of a new, genetic test to better care for brain tumor patients and precisely guide their treatment.
Title: Cellular Therapies for Malignant Gliomas
Principal Investigator: Moneeb Ehtesham, M.D.
Our research focuses on the development of effective cell-based strategies to treat malignant brain tumors. High grade gliomas, the most common primary brain tumors, are characterized by their highly infiltrative nature and often recur despite aggressive resection of the primary tumor mass with adjunct radio- and chemotherapy. Our work focuses on developing the use of progenitors and immune cells as tools to track down and specifically target infiltrative glioma cells in the brain. The goal of this laboratory is to develop these experimental approaches into translationally relevant treatment paradigms. We are also interested in elucidating chemokine signaling mechanisms that govern the migratory capacity of glioma cells as well as neural progenitors in the brain. Furthermore, our group also seeks to investigate signaling mechanisms that may govern aberrant progenitor cell proliferation in the context of gliomagenesis.