Last week was a good week for DIPG research. After years of few advancements in the understanding and treatment of the disease, a new crop of research has emerged which shines a light on the working biology of the normal pediatric brain and its affect on DIPG tumors, as well as the origins of the tumor itself. MCF is proud to support Dr. Michelle Monje and Dr. Mark Souweidane, two of the leading researchers in this field who both had major papers published in scientific journals last week.

Dr. Monje, of Stanford University, was cited in not one, but two papers last week. The first is a collaborative effort reporting the identification of mutations in the ACVR1 gene in some DIPG tumors. Dr Monje was also the lead author of a paper showing that “neuronal activity causes changes in myelin (cells that insulate nerve fibers and make them more efficient).” As Stanford’s School of Medicine Newsletter says, this is an area of interest for Dr. Monje and other DIPG researchers because:

“The cancer, which usually strikes children between 5 and 9 years old and is inevitably fatal, occurs when the brain myelination that normally takes place as kids become more physically coordinated goes awry, and the brain cells grow out of control. “

To read more about the study click here.

Dr. Mark Souweidane, of Weill Cornell Brain and Spine Center, is a co-author (along with some of the leading names in pediatric brain tumor research) on a new paper about DIPG. A collaborative, multi-institution research group announced that they have discovered three distinct types of DIPG – showing it is not a single disease at all, but rather three different diseases. With this knowledge, researchers will now be able to choose therapeutic agents that have the best chances of success against an individual child’s particular type of tumor.

To read more click here.

Your generous support and participation in MCF events has helped enable researchers to begin to understand the complexity of this disease. While it is exciting to see progress, there is still a long and difficult road ahead of us as we search for a cure. Research needs funding now more than ever to allow these discoveries to become a source of real hope for children and families

“The funding model used by the McKenna Claire Foundation, investing in the research group more than in a specific project, provides the resources we need to act quickly when a promising new direction arises from the data. This allows us to be nimble in our research, and hopefully to move the field closer to effective therapies for DIPG.”
-Dr. Michelle Monje