The goals of this project are to advance understanding of the molecular pathogenesis of pediatric high grad glioma (HGG), identify targets for therapeutic intervention and generate improved model systems for biological study and pre-clinical testing. Pediatric HGGs comprise 15-20% of all pediatric CMS tumors, and carry an abysmal prognosis, with 70-90% of patients dying within 2 years of diagnosis. While the molecular genetics of adult HGG has been investigated extensively, much less is known about the pediatric disease, in large part due to limiting patient samples. The lack of tumor material for research is especially challenging for HGG arising in the pons, termed diffuse brainstem gliomas (BSG), because they are not treated surgically. A comprehensive high-resolution molecular analysis of a large collection of pediatric HGG has never been reported. Importantly, there are distinct differences in the frequency of specific gene mutations between pediatric and adult HGG, indicating that targeted therapeutic strategies developed for adults may not be optimal approaches for children. The foundation for our proposal includes novel in vitro and in vivo models for HGG developed during the first funding period, and a unique large collection of rare pediatric HGG samples for biological studies. We will complete a comprehensive high resolution analysis of pediatric HGG, identify candidate oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes for HGG and test their contribution to astrocytic tumorigenesis, and use novel mouse models to dissect tumor suppressor function in gliomagenesis in vivo. Our studies will be integrated with others in this program project to identify unique cancer pathways underlying pediatric HGG and common pathways leading to pediatric brain tumors.
Up to 90% of children with high-grade glioma will die within 2 years of diagnosis. Our overall goal is to identify gene mutations that cause high-grade glioma in children and that can therefore act as targets for curative new therapies. We will also use and improve our existing model systems to test effects of these gene mutations and the ability of new therapeutic agents to stop glioma growth.
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