Research Overview

Malignant primary brain tumors occur in the adult and children population. In particular, Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the most common and aggressive type of primary brain tumor. In children, it is the second most common malignancy following leukemia and represent the leading cause of cancer death in children under the age of 15. In adults, it accounts for approximately 50% of primary brain tumors.3 The extensive infiltrating growth pattern of these tumors is the cause of their recurrence within less than 6 months of treatment.

Aggressive multimodality treatments with surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy have lead to some improvement in prognosis for patients with glioblastoma and high-grade gliomas. Recent Level IIb evidence supports the concept that aggressive surgical resection of GBM has a positive impact on survival. However, the 5 year survival rate for patients with GBM is less than 5%5 and a median survival rate of less than 12 months . The futility of present treatments in combating this disease is in part due to their inability to address the highly invasive nature of these neoplasms. Glial tumor cells intersperse themselves with normal brain parenchyma and typically give rise to tumor recurrence within the operated surgical site.6 Targeting these tumor cells while sparing the normal cells may prove to be critical for the success of any potential therapeutic strategy.

The development of successful treatments for GBM needs to focus how the intracranial disease left behind at the time of surgery can be eliminated. Residual brain tumor cells may be protected from conventional adjuvant therapies by intrinsic factor, such as resistance to alkylating agents, and extrinsic factors, such as the blood-brain barrier.

The focus of our laboratory is to investigate new delivery methods to carrying pro-apoptotic genes while sparing normal brain cells. Additionally, we are investigating the effects of substances that can enhance the effects of standard treatments such as ionizing radiations and temozolomide.