Dr. Richard Anderson from the Pediatric Neurosurgery Center has just received a large gift from the Meghan Rose Bradley Foundation for pediatric brain tumor research. The foundation presented Dr. Anderson with a $35,000 check at their 4th Annual Dinner Gala held last month.
This is the fourth year in a row that the Bradley Foundation has supported Dr. Anderson‘s research.
The Foundation was established in December, 2004 in memory of Meghan Bradley, who passed away on November 7th, 2004 due to brain cancer. In preserving her memory, we aim to raise the public awareness and research of pediatric brain cancer.
In his address to the attendees of this year’s event, Dr. Anderson said:
“Unfortunately, pediatric tumors are one of the most common cause of cancer death among children. Over 3000 new children will be diagnosed with a brain tumor this year in the United States. About half of these will be malignant. These children will not only require surgery, but also additional forms of treatment such as radiation or chemotherapy.
But there is hope. We know more about pediatric brain tumors today than we ever have before. Thanks in large part to the determination and generosity of the Meghan Rose Bradley Foundation, we have been able to continue our efforts in investigating new ways to treat children with brain tumors. The type of therapy we are most interested in is called immunotherapy, because it focuses on harnessing the power of the body’s own immune system to fight tumors.”
Last year I discussed that our laboratory was primarily working with a category of pediatric brain tumors called gliomas. Gliomas include several different tumor types, but all together they account for nearly 75% of malignant brain tumors in children.
After examining malignant glioma specimens collected over the last few years, we noticed that one specific type of immune cell, called a microglial cell or monocyte, was present at a much higher frequency by far than any other cell type of the immune system. That led us to hypothesize that this cell type is likely to play a major role in how the immune system interacts with this type of tumor.
Indeed, our subsequent work then demonstrated that malignant glioma cells are very powerful in inhibiting microglia and monocytes, especially by reducing the secretion of tumor necrosis factor, a molecule that kills tumor cells. What we did not know, however, was HOW this was happening.
Over the last year, we conducted very sophisticated experiments called a microarray analysis, where we examined over 30,000 genes to try to determine which genes are most involved in shutting down the immune system. We have been able to narrow it down to the ten most important of these genes, and are now beginning a series of experiments in an attempt to block these genes to try to reverse this immunosuppressive state induced by these tumors. We hope that with this discovery, we will be better prepared to focus and intensify the immune system, and then direct it to destroy pediatric brain tumors.”
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