Brain tumor genomics identified genetic alterations in key signaling pathways that control growth, death and motility. Our team studies how these genetic changes drive brain tumor phenotypes, to enable the development of novel targeted therapeutics.
- Glioma stem cells. The most critical factor impacting patient survival in brain tumors like glioblastoma is the invariable recurrence following surgical resection and therapeutic intervention. Recurrent tumors may arise from a multipotent population of stem or stem-like cells, which are characterized by therapy resistance. Also known as glioma-initiating cells, they have acquired the stem-like properties of multi-lineage differentiation and self-renewal capabilities. Our investigators aim to understand molecular mechanisms of glioma stem cell development and tumorigenicity, their ability to re-appropriate prototypical neurodevelopment pathways, and identify core pathways amenable to pharmacologic targeting.
- Brain tumor metabolism. Over the past decade,cancer metabolism has witnessed a renaissance and renewed interest. Research revealed that cancer metabolic rewiring, particularly in brain tumors, is far more complex than initially postulated, and extends beyond changes in glycolytic flux. Metabolism research, including the work of Brain Tumor Center team members, identified many changes in different metabolic pathways as contributing to or driving malignant phenotypes. Brain Tumor Center investigators identify key metabolic adaptations in brain tumors and develop novel therapeutics that selectively target these vulnerabilities.
- Sexual dimorphism. Males and females show different rates of brain tumor incidence and responses to therapy. Our investigators are unravelling sex-specific molecular mechanisms that underlie brain tumor growth and responses to therapy. These include mechanisms of metabolic adaptation in males versus females, as well as epigenetic mechanisms, by which sex hormones and sex chromosomes regulate gene expression, establish sex-specific risk for brain tumor development, and dictate response to therapy. The overarching goal of these studies is to inform sex-specific approaches to treatment.
- Cancer Neuroscience. Neuronal activity can promote brain tumor growth; tumors and anti-tumor therapies, in turn, can alter nervous system function. These investigations established the burgeoning field of cancer neuroscience, by providing important insights into the molecular mechanisms of brain tumor progression, and by pointing to novel approaches for treating brain tumors. Current projects in the Brain Tumor Center are focused on determining the cellular and molecular mechanisms, by which neuronal activity controls of brain tumor growth and impacts the tumor microenvironment.