Grants - Pennsylvania - Designated Grants - 2017

Sameer Agnihotri, Ph.D.

Funded by WWE in honor of Connor’s Cure

Brain cancer is now the No. 1 cause of cancer-related deaths in children. A tumor known as pediatric high-grade glioma (PHGG) is the most deadly type. Even though children with PHGG get intense treatment, including surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, most patients still die within two years of their initial brain cancer diagnosis. Part of the problem is that PHGG tumors are not all the same. However, our research has recently identified a clear group of PHGG tumors in which there is damage to the system of proteins that promote healthy cell growth. The system is supposed to work like the accelerator and brake pedals of a car, allowing the body to keep cell growth in control; but when gene mutations produce bad proteins, the system behaves as though the accelerator is stuck and the brakes have failed. The system becomes overactive and promotes unstoppable tumor growth. This system, called PI3K/AKT, is also a factor in many other aggressive cancers. We think that restoring the proper function of PI3K/AKT is possible and could halt or even shrink PHGG tumors. Our proposed research will test and validate new therapies to do this.