Dr. Tao and her team from Baylor College of Medicine and its affiliated partner Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston received $50,000 in December 2019 to investigate strategies to overcome neuroblastoma. She will determine if targeting neuroblastoma metabolism can restore the sensitivity of its aggressive cancer to chemotherapy. Dr. Tao expects their research will provide novel mechanistic insight into drug resistance and will develop clinically translatable approaches that will benefit children who develop resistance to treatment.
2020 Lay Progress Summary of research conducted to date: The tumors of almost 50% of children with high-risk neuroblastoma (NB) have high MYCN expression. High MCYN tumor expression is associated with resistance to chemotherapy and poor survival. Therefore, it is critical that we develop effective therapeutic approaches to overcome drug resistance and improve long-term survival for this high-risk subset of neuroblastoma. Cancer cells crave distinct nutrients (amino acids, lipids, glucose etc.) to grow and survive. Our research has shown that high MYCN-expressing tumors consume a large amount of glutamine and this increased consumption contributes to the development of chemotherapy resistance. We demonstrated that blocking tumor glutamine consumption using a clinically available drug, CB-839, successfully restored sensitivity of the tumor cells to the mTORC1 inhibitor, temsirolimus (TEM). Our next step is to test the combination of these two drugs in multiple pre-clinical models of NB to see if this combination can effectively kill neuroblastoma cells. If the results of these studies are positive, our next step will be to evaluate this drug combination in children with neuroblastoma that is refractory to current standard treatment regimens. We would like to thank the TeamConnor Childhood Cancer Foundation for the dedication to fighting pediatric cancers and for supporting our research. Principal Investigator – Ling Tao, PhDMentor: Eveline Barbieri, MD PhD
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