Grants - V Scholar Grants - 2019

Yanxin Pei, Ph.D.

Funded by Trea and Kristen Turner

Medulloblastoma (MB) is a common form of brain cancer and the leading cause of cancer-related death and injury in children. One subtype of MB (MYC-amplified MB) occurs in the cerebellum, the part of the brain that controls movement. However, MB often spreads to other parts of the brain and spinal cord. In roughly one-third of patients, MB has already spread when they are diagnosed. In patients that develop MB more than once, most of them have tumors beyond the brain. The current treatment is radiation of the entire brain and spinal cord, followed by high-dose chemotherapy. This is very harmful to a child’s developing brain and not effective for the spread tumors. New and improved therapies are greatly needed.

Understanding how MB spreads will help researchers develop new treatments and prevention plans. LDHA is an enzyme that plays an important role in tumor development and spread. In healthy tissue, LDHA levels are low. In tumor samples, LDHA levels are extremely high. Blocking LDHA may slow cancer without damaging healthy tissue. Our goal is to discover in the laboratory if targeting LDHA can prevent and treat MB that has spread. Then we will develop clinical trials so that children suffering from this horrible disease can have better results.