The goal of our studies is to elucidate the role of neural stem cells in development, regeneration, and tumor formation in the cerebellum. By understanding the role of stem cells, we hope to learn to use them for repair of neurological damage and to develop more effective treatments for patients with brain tumors.
During the last year, we have made important progress in several areas. Using animal models of medulloblastoma, the most common malignant brain tumor in children, we have uncovered new mechanisms and pathways that drive tumor growth and metastasis. In addition, we have identified pathways that are altered in choroid plexus carcinoma, another rare and frequently lethal pediatric brain tumor. Finally, by using tumor cells to screen thousands of drugs, we have identified therapeutic agents that may be effective against medulloblastoma and choroid plexus carcinoma, and are testing them in our models of these diseases. In the coming year, we will continue in our efforts to understand these aggressive cancers and develop new, more effective therapies for children who suffer from them.