The Brain Tumor Foundation for Children has awarded Emory University scientist Erwin G. Van Meir, PhD, a $50,000 grant for pre-clinical research on two of the deadliest forms of pediatric brain tumors--gliomas and medulloblastomas.
"We are very grateful for the foundation support and all the dedicated individuals who helped raise these funds. Such efforts make a big difference," says Van Meir.
Van Meir will study a novel small molecule that may inhibit the role of a key protein, hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF-1). HIF-1 is linked to the malignant progression of tumors found in the central nervous system (CNS) and activates angiogenesis, the process that initiates the formation of new blood vessel needed for tumor growth.
"This is a very exciting opportunity," says Van Meir. "Using mouse models, we will be able to test for the first time a novel small chemical molecule as a candidate drug to treat the two most lethal forms of childhood cancer. We evidenced the anti-cancer action of this novel molecule discovered in our laboratory in 2006, and now we will be able to test whether its action extends to pediatric brain tumors. This study provides new hope for children with brain tumors who urgently need new treatments."
Brain tumors are the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in children younger than 15 and the most common type of childhood cancer. Each year, roughly 2,000 children are diagnosed with brain tumors. Treatment may include surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
Van Meir, who joined Emory in 1998, is the director of the Laboratory for Molecular Neuro-Oncology and the co-director of the Emory Winship Cancer Institute Brain Tumor Program. He has devoted his research career to the study of brain tumors, studying the biology and genetics of these cancers and developing new experimental therapies. His laboratory has recently focused on drug discovery with the aim of translating new findings of anti-cancer activity in mouse models to accelerated testing in patients. For more information visit http://neurosurgery.emory.edu/FacultyVanMeir.htm.
"It takes a lot of dedication by many talented individuals, and we have been fortunate to have incredible collaborators without which these discoveries would not have been possible," says Van Meir. "Our small molecule work has greatly benefited from collaborations with the laboratories of Kyriacos C. Nicolaou at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Binghe Wang at Georgia State University, Ruiwen Zhang at the University of Alabama in Birmingham and Mark Goodman at Emory University.
The Brain Tumor Foundation for Children focuses on providing emotional and informational support to families of children with brain tumors, public education and awareness of the disease, and raising funds to support research for a cure and for the improvement in the treatment and the quality of life of those with pediatric brain tumors. http://www.braintumorkids.org.