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Researchers Give Gift of Hope Through PBTF-Funded Scientific Discoveries

01/05/22

Brain tumors are the leading cause of death by disease among children in the United States, a stark reality for too many families that underscores the urgent need for an improved understanding of pediatric brain tumor biology and treatment options. Bringing investigators together as stewards for the collaborative process is critical to accelerating discoveries that improve precision diagnostics, lead to effective clinical trials, and identify targeted therapies that offer hope to the families of pediatric cancer patients.

The internationally recognized investigators funded by the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation are among the largest and most comprehensive teams of experts propelling research and treatments forward. PBTF celebrates and thanks the research community for their help in 2021 to advance science that will extend and improve the lives of children diagnosed with a brain tumor. 

"Success in finding better treatments for pediatric brain tumors depends on individual scientists and labs joining forces to ease the journey of the children valiantly battling this disease. As we look ahead to the discoveries that 2022 will bring, we’re grateful for the dedication and perseverance of the scientific community that's making this progress possible," says Courtney Davies, PBTF CEO and President.

Two examples of collaborative scientific efforts funded by PBTF in 2021 included our Early Career Development Program and the PLGA Research Program at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. The Annual Scientific Review Meetings for these programs showed astounding results in both discovery and cross-institutional partnership:

Early Career Development Program Annual Scientific Review

In November 2021, PBTF hosted a scientific program review bringing together research experts Drs. Tobey MacDonald and Javad Nazarian with current PBTF Early Career Development (ECD) awardees Drs. Timothy Phoenix (Cincinnati Children's Hospital), Zachary Reitman (Duke University Medical Center), and Stephen Mack (St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital) to share advancements in their respective research focusing on "Maintenance of DIPG Blood-Brain Barrier Integrity by Angiopoietin," "Identifying Brainstem Glioma Subtypes That Can Be Radiosensitized by ATM Inhibition" and "Harnessing Viral Mimicry to Target H3K27M-Driven Pediatric Glioma."

As a result of their collaboration, this promising group of scientists applied for a joint NCI RO1 grant. The RO1 focuses on testing the effects of radiation therapy on tumor cells and the microenvironment in mouse brain tumor models that Drs. Phoenix, Reitman, and Mack created in each of their respective labs. By partnering in this effort, they advance their independent work while moving the entire field forward. 

PLGA Research Program at the DFCI Annual Scientific Review

In December 2021, PBTF conducted the annual scientific review of the PLGA Research Program at the Dana Faber Cancer Institute (DFCI). This program spans 15 years and has helped catapult PLGA science into an international collaborative effort. Under Dr. Mimi Bandopadhayay, the current team includes scientists Drs. Rameen Beroukhim, Michael Eck, Kathy Warren, and Keith Ligon, who represent a broad spectrum of disciplines and multiple medical institutions throughout New England. The program's focus is to identify clinical issues for patients battling PLGA. Their work has stimulated global scientific research as they strive to: 

  • Explore critical drivers for BRAF, FGFR, and MYB/MYBL1 glioma mutations
  • Study mechanisms through which different oncogenes induce tumor development
  • Investigate the intrinsic and extrinsic cellular drivers of tumor growth
  • Identify oncogenes specific to a tumor and inhibit the activity of the proteins it encodes
  • Understand and overcome recurrence and resistance despite multimodal treatment
  • Characterize the biological significance and mechanisms that lead to the inactivity of tumors

While the PLGA Research Program at the DFCI is the most extensive targeted PLGA program, we are delighted that it continues to expand globally. The German Cancer Research Center’s Everest in the Alps PLGA Program, housed in Heidelberg and led by David Jones has joined the DFCI as a leader in the PLGA biology and translational science space. With support from The Brain Tumor Charity (UK) and the collaborative culture of the DFCI research team, there is an opportunity for real discovery and new treatment development in the clinics for kids battling the most common form of pediatric brain tumors.  

Help Our Researchers Give the Gift of Hope as They Work Together to Provide Kids with Brain Tumors the Future Every Child Deserves

What will it take to put an end to pediatric brain tumors? An army of committed scientists, advocates, and supporters like you, accelerating the discovery of targeted therapies for children battling brain tumors today and providing the support families need to navigate their child's diagnosis.

Please donate today to give every child battling a brain tumor hope that they’ll have the chance to reach for their dreams instead of fight for their lives.