Funded by the 2015 Wine Celebration Fund a Need
More children die from brain tumors than any other type of cancer, and the most common type of brain tumor in children is medulloblastoma. Children with medulloblastoma are treated with surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, and more than 50% of patients survive into adulthood. However, the treatments used for medulloblastoma lead to many long-term side effects, including growth defects, hormone abnormalities, and impaired intelligence. Like all cancers, medulloblastoma is caused by uncontrolled cell growth. Approximately one-third of medulloblastoma cancers arise when a particular signal that tells brain cells to grow, called Hedgehog, gets stuck in the “on” position. We are interested in uncovering exactly how Hedgehog signals tell medulloblastoma cells to grow. To do so, we are investigating how the Hedgehog pathway is activated, and how Hedgehog activation regulates the expression of other signals to influence cell growth. In particular, we are using existing drugs to understand whether block critical mediators of Hedgehog effects blocks the growth of medulloblastoma. Understanding how Hedgehog signals cause cancer may show us how to turn off these signals, and potentially, lead to new therapies for medulloblastoma.