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Weekly Science Roundup: Here’s what you funded

A common question that staff, board members, and volunteers get from people about the National Brain Tumor Society’s mission is: Where does all of the money go?

While some of that money goes to our robust advocacy initiatives, we’re proud of the work we do with a dream team of scientists and researchers to create a roadmap to new treatments and an eventual cure.  We are are exceptionally proud of this scientific research we help fund.

As part of the community, you’re invested in the science on deep, personal level. Dr. Jen Helfer of our Programs Team often shares the latest in science with us so we can better serve you, and we’re now happy to share all of that with you as we get it.  Below are a list of the published scientific papers that came out over the past thirty days, along with descriptions of the important work:

Joseph Scafidi, DO (photo credit: Childrens National)

The emerging role of NG2 in pediatric diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG)

Yadavilli et al.: This is the first study to demonstrate that NG2 expression is associated with DIPG and that NG2 in DIPGs is regulated by miR129-2. By uncovering this association between the NG2 protein and DIPG, these researchers have identified novel opportunities for development of therapeutic targets to stop proliferation of this highly infiltrative cancer. (Funding part of NBTS Developmental Neurobiology Initiative to Dr. Joseph Scafidi)

What this means: This new study found an association between a protein in the human body that, due to its association with DIPG, provides us with a chance to develop new ways to slow or stop the growth of DIPG.

Dr. Timothy Cloughesy
Timothy Cloughesy, M.D. (photo credit: UCLA)

MRI perfusion measurements calculated using advanced deconvolution techniques predict survival in recurrent glioblastoma treated with bevacizumab

Harris et al.: Dynamic susceptibility contrast (DSC)-MRI is a type of imaging technique that is often used to monitor treatment response by estimating cerebral blood volume (CBV), cerebral blood flow (CBF), and mean transit times (MTT) in patients with brain tumors. In the study researchers examined these three perfusion imaging parameters (CBV, CBF, and MTT) in a group of recurrent GBM patients using DSC-MRI acquired before and after treatment with bevacizumab (aka Avastin). Results from this study suggest that DSC-derived measurements in GBM patients treated with bevacizumab are predictive of survival, providing evidence that blood volume and blood flow measurements can be used as biomarkers in patients treated with bevacizumab. (Funding to Dr. Benjamin Ellingson and Dr. Tim Cloughesy as part of the Endpoints Initiative.)

What this means: The (DSC)-MRI technique shows promise in predicting the survival of recurrent GBM patients treated with bevacizumab by measuring the blood volume and flow in their brains.

Lawrence S. Lamb, PhD (photo credit: UAB School of Medicine)

Dynamics of Circulating γδ T Cell Activity in an Immunocompetent Mouse Model of High-Grade Glioma 

Beck et al.: Human γδ T cells are potent effectors against glioma cell lines in vitro and in human/mouse xenograft models of GBM, however, this effect has not been investigated in an immunocompetent mouse model. Therefore, this study examined the dynamics of γδ T cell activity in a fully immunocompetent model of high-grade glioma. Findings showed a dynamic of early γδ T cell proliferation and apoptosis followed by profound γδ T cell depletion in mice implanted with GL261 high-grade gliomas, presenting evidence for a temporary γδ T cell-mediated immune response occurring shortly after tumor engraftment in mice followed by a decline over the course of tumor progression. The biologic mechanism by which this γδ T cell expansion occurs remains a subject for further investigation that ultimately could lead to an understanding of γδ T cell-based tumor response and strategies that augment and sustain the immune response to high-grade gliomas. (Funding to Dr. Lawrence Lamb Jr. through the Samuel Gerson Research Chair of the National Brain Tumor Society Grant)

What this means: This new study shows a promising lead on how to understand how cells react in the brain to high-grade gliomas. It’s also one step closer to finding a strategy to bolster and enhance the immune system’s ability to fight the brain tumor.

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Frederick F. Lang, Jr, MD, FACS, FAANS (photo credit: MD Anderson)

Mesenchymal Stem Cells Isolated from Human Gliomas Increase Proliferation and Maintain Stemness of Glioma Stem Cells through the IL- 6/gp130/STAT3 pathway

Hossain et al.: Using a translational approach, researchers studied the interaction of glioma stem cells (GSCs) with the cells of the surrounding stroma (supporting/connective tissue) in fresh GBM tissue samples. Through this approach they were able to show that human gliomas harbor mesenchymal stem-like cells (referred to as glioma-associated-hMSCs [GA-hMSCs]), were able to classify these cells into three genetic groups, and showed that these GA-hMSCs enhance the stemness, proliferation, and tumorigenicity of GSCs through the interleukin-6 (IL-6)/STAT3 pathway. These results identify GA-hMSCs as a novel cellular component of the stroma of GBM and as a novel therapeutic target within gliomas.  (Funding to Dr. Frederick Lang from Nick Gonzales GBM Research Grant)

What this means: By studying the stem-like cells of fresh GBM tissue samples and the tissue that connects the tumors to the brain, there is evidence of a new therapeutic target within gliomas.

This research wouldn’t have occurred without the generous donations of our community. We hope you’ll continue to support this science and together, we will transform tomorrow, today.

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