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Agne Petrosiute M.D.
Funded: 07-01-2015 through 06-30-2018
Funding Type: St. Baldrick's Scholar
Institution Location: Cleveland, OH
Institution: Case Western Reserve University

Despite successes in treating children with certain types of cancers, outcome remains poor for children with advanced solid tumors, including brain tumors and sarcomas. Dr. Petrosiute has investigated a protein called Cdk5 in medulloblastoma, finding that tumors become vulnerable to immune cell killing when Cdk5 function is disrupted, and this disruption, which can be achieved by drugs currently being tested in Phase I clinical trials, was correlated with a diminished production of immune-protective molecule called PD-L1 on tumor cells. This research aims to identify the molecular mechanisms of Cdk5 in order to enhance immunotherapy treatments. A portion of this grant was named for The Rebecca Allison Meyer Fund for Pediatric Cancer Research created to honor the memory of the joyful and spunky little girl who courageously battled brain cancer. Rebecca’s legacy lives on in the funding of promising glioblastoma research.

Agne Petrosiute M.D.
Funded: 07-01-2010 through 12-31-2014
Funding Type: St. Baldrick's Fellow
Institution Location: Cleveland, OH
Institution: Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital affiliated with University Hospitals of Cleveland

Based on progress to date, Dr. Petrosiute was awarded a new grant in 2013 to fund an optional third year of this fellowship. Medulloblastoma, the most common malignant brain tumor of childhood, often exhibits an aggressive growth pattern and causes high morbidity and mortality despite aggressive therapy. This project studies the role of a target protein, CDK5, and related molecules in controlling the invasion and spread of medulloblastoma. These potentially paradigm-shifting investigations promise the development of new biological agents or immune-mediated therapies against medulloblastoma and other devastating brain tumors of childhood.