Paul Northcott, Ph.D.

Funded by Vs. Cancer

Brain cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death in children. Current therapies for medulloblastoma, the most common type of aggressive childhood brain cancer, cure 60-80% of patients from their disease, however, these treatments are non-specific, highly toxic, and impose devastating consequences on the developing child. Novel, rationally designed therapies informed by studying medulloblastoma in the laboratory and identifying the causes of this childhood cancer are desperately needed to improve patient outcome and quality of life for survivors and their families.

Studies outlined in this application aim to gain a better understanding of the genes responsible for a large subset of medulloblastoma patients whom are typically associated with an exceedingly poor clinical outcome. There are currently no effective therapies designed to specifically treat these high-risk patients and as such they are treated with standard protocols that carry with them considerable side-effects, effectively stealing any possibility of a normal ‘life after cancer’ for kids fortunate enough to survive.

Discoveries made using state-of-the-art technologies during my recent Post-Doctoral Fellowship revealed important new insight into the genes involved in these high-risk medulloblastoma patients.  The most compelling evidence from my analyses implicated a new gene – KBTBD4 – a gene not previously implicated in childhood brain cancer, nor in any other cancer type. The experiments outlined in this application will directly evaluate the role of this novel, frequently altered gene (most commonly affected gene in high-risk patients) in medulloblastoma and establish its potential as a future target of therapeutic intervention in high-risk patients.

Location: St. Jude Children's Research Hospital - TN
Proposal: Functional characterization of hotspot KBTBD4 mutations in high-risk medulloblastoma
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