Research And Grants
University of Queensland Diamantina Institute – $100,000
Dr. Laura Genovesi
Innovative Models of the Brain Microenvironment to Identify New Treatments for Medulloblastoma
Brain tumors are the leading cause of disease related mortality in children. Survival rates for children diagnosed with medulloblastoma (MB), the most common malignant pediatric brain tumor, have stagnated for decades. Despite aggressive treatment approaches, a significant proportion of patients relapse, which is almost always fatal. Very little is currently known of the biology and the mechanisms underpinning medulloblastoma relapse. We urgently need a deeper understanding of how tumors relapse and become resistant to therapy to achieve better outcomes for children.
Our preliminary work suggests that tumor-driven changes in the brain microenvironment contribute to MB relapse, in particular the surrounding supportive scaffold and brain vessels. Precisely how tumor cells interact with the dynamically changing tumor microenvironment and blood vessel network and the impact of this on MB response to therapy remains unknown. We are proposing to apply our innovative pre-clinical models to examine the dynamic interactions between MB cells and their environment. This work generates a dramatically improved understanding of how specific environmental cues influence the therapeutic response of MB. Understanding the mechanisms underpinning relapse positions us to identify new drug targets and propose combination therapies that will enhance survival by reducing the likelihood of relapse.