Grants - Pennsylvania - Designated Grants - 2018

Baoli Hu, Ph.D.

Funded in partnership with WWE in honor of Connor’s Cure

Medulloblastoma is the most common malignant brain tumor in children. There are four distinct forms of this tumor based on its gene profiles, and a form known as Group 3 medulloblastoma is the most aggressive and deadly, which accounts for 25%-30% of all medulloblastoma. Each medulloblastoma group has distinct abnormal gene expression that determines how it creates, grows, and spreads tumors. Changes in gene behavior, like overexpression or underexpression, are controlled by what is called epigenetics. Fortunately, we know how to manipulate epigenetics with drugs. Dr. Hu and his colleagues found two epigenetic components that play important roles in controlling gene expression in tumor. Interestingly, these two epigenetic components seem to work together: when one component is suppressed, the other increases, and vice versa. A gene called MYC is very active in many cancers including Group 3 medulloblastoma. In this project, Dr. Hu’s team will characterize these two epigenetic components to understand more precisely how they work, particular in controlling MYC expression, even further, they will test in the lab whether “drugging” these epigenetic factors can halt the growth and spread of medulloblastoma tumors. If this hypothesis is proven, it may be possible to use these drugs in combination to treat this devastating childhood cancer.