Home » CPRIT awards additional $3.9 million to cancer center investigators
Three researchers at Texas Children’s Cancer Center/Baylor College of Medicine recently received a total of $3,866,831 from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT).
“I am very proud of the work of these three dedicated researchers and pleased that our faculty members continue to move the field forward toward the goal of an eventual cure for all forms of childhood cancer,” said Dr. David Poplack, director of Texas Children’s Cancer Center.
Investigating the increased risk of acute lymphoblastic leukemia in children with Down syndrome
Dr. Karen Rabin, director of the Leukemia Program at Texas Children’s Cancer Center and a physician-scientist, was awarded $1,200,000 for her project, “Molecular Epidemiology and Somatic Alterations Driving Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in Down Syndrome.”
In this project, Dr. Rabin and co-investigator Dr. Philip Lupo will investigate the basis for the 20-fold increased risk of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in children with Down syndrome.
They seek to identify genetic variants in children with Down syndrome that are associated with an increased risk of ALL. They will also study the effects of a gene that is commonly mutated in Down syndrome ALL in a mouse model of Down syndrome.
“Findings from this study may lead to improved genetic testing and counseling strategies for children with Down syndrome, and may identify genes driving the development of Down syndrome ALL which could serve as therapeutic targets to improve outcomes in this vulnerable and high-risk patient population,” said Rabin.
Seeking to initiate new clinical trials for medulloblastoma
Dr. Xiao-Nan Li, a member of the Cancer Center’s Brain Tumor Program, received $1,198,726 for his study, “High Throughput Combinatory Drug Screening for Pediatric Medulloblastomas With a Dysregulated EZH2 Pathway.”
The goal of this study is to establish rationales that may help to clinical trials that use combination therapies to target EZH2 in children with medulloblastoma.
“Dsysregulation of epigenetics may have played a more prominent role in driving medulloblastoma tumorigenesis. EZH2 is a histone methyl transferase subunit of a Polycomb repressor complex and is highly expressed in group 3 and 4 medulloblastomas, which are shown to have the worst prognosis,” said Xiao-Nan.
Determining the role of cancer predisposition genes on the risk of rhabdomyosarcoma
Dr. Philip Lupo, Co-Director of the Childhood Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention Program at Texas Children’s Cancer Center, received $1,488,105 for his research, “Genetic Epidemiology and Molecular Basis of Cancer Predisposition in Pediatric Rhabdomyosarcoma.”
Lupo’s study will leverage the resources of the Children’s Oncology Group to obtain over 1,000 samples from children newly diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma.
“We will also create the first family-based study of rhabdomyosarcoma for genomic analyses. We will then utilize state-of-the-art techniques in DNA sequencing, available at Baylor College of Medicine, to thoroughly study cancer predisposition genes in these individuals,” said Lupo.
“We will also work with leading sarcoma experts at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center to understand the functional consequences of mutations in these genes on rhabdomyosarcoma using a novel zebrafish model. Our overall goal is to fully explain the role of cancer predisposition genes on the risk of rhabdomyosarcoma.”
This study represents an important step toward a better understanding of the causes of pediatric rhabdomyosarcoma by combining population-based research strategies with innovative molecular biological approaches.
Additional investigator grants for pediatric cancer research were awarded to members of Baylor College of Medicine’s Dan L. Duncan Cancer Center. Texas Children’s Cancer Center is a joint program of Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital and is the pediatric cancer program of the NCI-designated Dan L. Duncan Cancer Center. For more information, visit bcm.edu/news/grants/cprit-awards-7-million-to-investigators.