Funded by the Dick Vitale Pediatric Cancer Research Fund
Neuroblastoma is a common and deadly childhood tumor. Even with our best treatments, the disease may return. If this happens, our best treatments are not always effective and most patients will pass away. This motivated us to study how neuroblastoma becomes resistant to treatment. Neuroblastoma tumors are made up of different kinds of cancer cells, some of which are sensitive to chemotherapy, and some of which are resistant. Importantly, these different populations can switch between each other, causing sensitive cells to become resistant. How cells do this is not well understood, but may be related to proteins called “transcription factors.” Understanding how resistance occurs may allow us to create new treatments. These treatments could change resistant cells into sensitive cells or stop sensitive cells from becoming resistant. In this proposal, we will use new tools to understand how neuroblastoma cells switch between sensitivity and resistance. We will also use these tools to identify the controllers of these switches. We hope these studies will lead to new ways to treat children with neuroblastoma by targeting resistant cells. We believe this will create new ways to stop this terrible childhood cancer.