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PBTF Research Funding at Work: Methionine Restriction May Improve Prognosis for Children with Aggressive Brain Cancer

04/15/22

Research News via University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh

While some pediatric brain tumors can be removed through surgery, others such as diffuse midline gliomas (DMGs) are extraordinarily difficult to treat. Because these tumors are located deep inside the brain, surgery is often impossible. DMGs don't respond to radiation or other standard treatments either, and children diagnosed with this type of brain tumor are projected to live for less than a year.

New research, funded in part through the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation, shows promise for treating these especially deadly tumors.

In a paper published in Nature Cancer this week, physician-scientists from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Department of Neurological Surgery and UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh discovered that DMG tumors are uniquely dependent on methionine – an amino acid that humans must receive from food. Developing drugs that restrict methionine-processing specifically in the brain tumor, but not the rest of the body could pave the way for new non-invasive treatments. 

PBTF supported this discovery through our Early Career Development funding of Dr. Stephen Mack at St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital. As part of our strategy to accelerate pediatric-first brain tumor research, PBTF's multi-year Early Career Development grants ensure that talented scientists like Dr. Mack have the funding needed to become fully independent investigators while fostering collaborations to pursue new therapies for children battling the deadliest childhood cancer. 

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