Neurosurgery
Pediatric Neurosurgery

Stanford Center for Children’s Brain Tumors

The Center for Children’s Brain Tumors (CCBT) was established in 2004 with generous funding from the Price, Listwin, and Chambers families to better comprehend pediatric brain tumors by facilitating collaboration between basic science researchers, neuro-oncology and pediatric neurosurgery. Directing the center are pediatric neurosurgeon Michael Edwards, M.D., developmental biologist Matthew Scott, Ph.D., and pediatric neurologist/ neuro-oncologist Paul Fisher, M.D. Each specialist brings unique expertise to the comprehension of brain tumor biology. The center draws upon the burgeoning fields of genomics and proteomics, stem cell research, structural biology, chemical biology, computer imaging and high-throughput screening strategies. Issues that inhibit the advancement of pediatric brain tumor care are also being studied along with finding a cure. The CCBT’s ultimate mission is to safely transform scientific discovery into effective therapies for patients.

Unlocking the Genetic Code for Medulloblastoma Brain Tumors

One exciting example of the several ongoing research projects sponsored by the CCBT includes Dr. Matthew Scott and colleagues who discovered in 1996 that mutations in the Hedgehog receptor gene PATCHED (top image) affected normal development of the cerebellar granule layer precursor cells which resulted in the formation of medulloblastoma tumors. They then genetically engineered a mouse model of the disease by constructing a mutant patched1 mouse (bottom image). Present avenues of research will apply genome sequencing of mouse medulloblastoma tumor tissue compared to adjacent non-tumor normal cerebellum. The second phase will include similar sequencing in human medulloblastoma and cerebellum. The third phase will be to monitor the progression of tumors by examining early pre-tumors for genetic lesions. In collaboration with Chris Contag, Ph.D. and the Molecular Imaging Program at Stanford (MIPS) the pediatric neurosurgery team is evaluating the feasibility of improving medulloblastoma tumor resections by labeling the cells with novel peptides and using a hand-held confocal microscope to visualize residual cells at the tumor margin.

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