Investigating Brain Cancers in Order to Target their Tumor Initiating Cells
One of the most difficult cancers to treat is one that arises in the brain. These brain tumors, called gliomas, are incredibly resistant to therapy and are a challenge to target because of the variety of cells that make up the tumor. Now we are beginning to understand that these various cells are so different, that treating the tumor effectively most likely will require us to treat the different components within the tumor.
One such component of gliomas are cancerous cells that act like stem cells—also called cancer stem cells. We believe that they may actually arise from normal brain stem cells, called neural stem cells. Furthermore after standard treatment, they are most likely the residual components that lead to the tumor returning.
Excitingly, our research goals are to 1) innovatively exploit the basic tumor biology, 2) indentify the cellular roots of treatment failure and 3) test agents that selectively attack the resistant cells in brain tumors, in order to better treat gliomas. The results could lead to immediate and non-toxic treatments for brain cancer patients.