Funded Research

Developing a Novel Reprogramming Strategy for Pediatric Brain Tumor Treatment
Principal Investigator(s):
  • Qin Yang, M.D., Ph.D. Radiation Oncology
  • Dennis Hallahan, M.D. Radiation Oncology
  • McDonnell Pediatric Cancer Center
Award Mechanism:
Interdisciplinary Research Initiative
Project Period:
2/1/2016 - 1/31/2018
Total Amount:

Project Summary
Brain tumors are the second most common childhood malignancy and the most common type of solid tumor among children. The goal of this proposal is to develop a novel reprogramming method for the treatment of glioblastoma multiforme, a difficult-to-treat pediatric brain tumor. Inhibitors of proteins called kinases are sufficient to reprogram brain tumor cells into normal neurons, which have been shown to lose their tumor-generating potential in mice. Currently, kinase inhibitors are used as anti-tumor drugs in patients, so this reprogramming strategy has significant potential to move rapidly toward clinical trials. The aim of the proposed project is to reprogram various brain tumor cells into normal neurons as the initial step of a novel strategy to treat and potentially cure pediatric brain tumors.

Specific aims

·   Reprogram human pediatric glioblastoma cells into neurons in cell culture studies by combining kinase inhibitors with small molecules that prevent cellular resistance to reprogramming.

Potential impact on child health
This project is the first step towards the development of novel reprogramming treatment strategies that if successful, will extend the lives of, or potentially cure, children with brain tumors. 

Todd DeWees, Ph.D., Jiayi Huang, M.D., and Shunqiang Li, Ph.D.