Researchers to study role of genes in new treatments for deadly pediatric brain tumor

Robert Lober is a physician scientist and assistant professor of pediatrics at the Boonshoft School of Medicine.

A team of researchers from the Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine received an award of $48,500 from the Mayfield Education & Research Foundation of Cincinnati to study the role of genes in new treatments for a deadly pediatric brain tumor.

Led by Robert Lober, M.D., Ph.D., a physician scientist and assistant professor of pediatrics at the Boonshoft School of Medicine, the researchers are studying diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG). DIPG is a highly aggressive brain tumor found at the base of the brain. Difficult to treat, it is a terminal form of childhood cancer. There is no surgical intervention, and clinical trials have been unsuccessful and ineffective.

“I treat children with brain tumors,” said Lober, who practices at Dayton Children’s Hospital. “This research directly addresses a particular incurable brain cancer in children. We are trying to understand how these tumors resist all current treatments through changes in gene expression.”

The one-year award will enable Lober and his research team to identify critical molecular mediators of DIPG treatment resistance and understand how gene expression affects tumor growth and treatment resistance.

“We are seeking to gain a new understanding of preferential gene repression at critical loci as the foundation for studying ways in which treatment is resisted,” Lober said. “We want to bring about a new paradigm of therapies based on tumor gene expression patterns.”

His team includes co-principal investigator Thomas Brown, Ph.D., associate chair for research; professor of neuroscience, cell biology and physiology; and professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Boonshoft School of Medicine; Christopher Waker, a Wright State graduate student; and research assistants Chanel Keoni and Brianna Schurko of Dayton Children’s.

Through Dayton Children’s affiliation with the Wright State University and Premier Health Neuroscience Institute, Lober researches brain tumors in children through high-level imaging.

The Mayfield Education & Research Foundation exists to advance the care of patients with brain and spine disorders through education and research.

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