Nick Valvano Translational Research Grant *
Brain tumors are the number one cause of pediatric cancer deaths. And despite advances in treatment, children in remission have both the constant worry of their tumor returning, plus long term (often delibitating) treatment-induced side effects. . As new treatments are developed, there is an urgent need to better monitor treatment response.
Due to their location, the most common tool for monitoring pediatric brain tumors is recurrent imaging ( such as a series of MRI imaging scans over time). While imaging can provide some information about current disease status in brain tumor patients, it can’t provide details on how the tumor has changed in response to therapy. To address this gap in technological capacity, our team has developed a less invasive blood test that can remove rare tumor cells and particles released by the tumor in brain tumor patients. This test requires less than a teaspoon of blood, which makes it ideal for pediatric patients. For this study, we will use our test on 60 pediatric cancer patients with gliomas and medulloblastomas, in order to detect and monitor the these biomarkers in the blood, and watch for changes to their levels throughout treatment. At the end of this study, we then plan to test our techology in multi-center clinical trials. Our long-term goal is to use tumor biomarkers in blood to more rapidly identify when brain cancer patients need to be retreated, which we hope can in turn be used to accelerate and improve therapeutic interventions.