Funded by the Scott Hamilton CARES Foundation in partnership with the Dick Vitale Pediatric Cancer Research Fund
Brain tumors are the leading cause of childhood cancer mortality. Two types of these brain tumors, both with mutations in different parts of the histone 3 protein, are both aggressive and deadly. Although these tumors are so awful for the child that has one in their brain, when the tumor is removed with surgery, it is very hard to grow in a dish. For this reason, many scientists take these patient tumor cells and grow them in a mouse. Yet, we and others have seen that although this way of growing the tumors is better than nothing as it allows us to research the tumor cells, the tumor changes a lot in the mouse brain. For this reason, we have generated new models, using transplantation to a cortical organoid. A cortical organoid is a three-dimensional model of the developing human brain made from stem cells. Our work shows this system mimics more aspects of the original tumor, and also provides an opportunity to see how the tumor cells interact with the human brain. We will further optimize this system to study these pediatric brain tumor and we will now begin to ask, which cell types actually cause the tumor to recur after surgery? Which cell types are most invasive, and thus most dangers? Finally, we will also try to identify the cause of these tumors so that we can either prevent them from emerging in children in the first place, or detect them early to prevent tumor progression.