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Funding Type: Research Grant
Institution Location: Durham, NC
Institution: Duke University Medical Center affiliated with Duke Children's Hospital & Health Center
Diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, also referred to as brainstem glioma, is a pediatric cancer that accounts for the majority of deaths from brain tumors in children. Although radiation therapy is the standard of care for brainstem gliomas, the median survival of children with this tumor type is less than one year from diagnosis. In order to improve the treatment of these patients, Dr. Kirsch's team is using a model of brainstem glioma that can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of new therapies. Using this model, they are testing whether removing a protein called ATM, which is the target of drugs now entering clinical trials, will enhance radiation sensitivity in brainstem gliomas. They hypothesize that deleting this target, when given in combination with radiation therapy, will increase the number of tumor cells killed by radiation and will therefore improve survival in brainstem gliomas when they have a specific gene mutation commonly found in this childhood brain tumor. If successful, these studies will inform the design of future clinical trials testing this strategy in children with brainstem gliomas. This grant is named for Hannah’s Heroes, a St. Baldrick’s Hero Fund created in honor of Hannah Meeson and pays tribute to her fight by raising awareness and funding for all childhood cancers because kids like Hannah “are worth fighting for.”