Researcher Spotlight

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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Did You Know

Building awareness of childhood cancer is critical to funding and finding a cure. To help, please consider sharing teamconnor.org on your Facebook.

Today, 46 children will be diagnosed with cancer.  Seven will lose their battle.

Did you know September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month!

Every day in America, approximately 46 children are diagnosed with cancer.

Childhood cancer does not discriminate, sparing no ethnic group, socio-economic class, or geographic region.

Rhabdomyosarcoma is the most common soft tissue sarcoma in children, accounting for about 3% of childhood cancers.

On average, 1 in every 4 elementary schools has a child with cancer.

About one-third of childhood cancers are leukemias.

Childhood cancer survival rates in the United States have increased from less than 20% in the 1960s to almost 80% today.

Cancer kills more children each year than Asthma, Cystic Fibrosis, Diabetes, and Pediatric AIDS combined.

Childhood cancer is not one disease entity, but rather a spectrum of different malignancies. Cancers found in children are biologically different from those seen in adults.

1 in 300 children will develop cancer before age 20.

Neuroblastoma is the most common extra cranial solid tumor cancer in children.

Today, up to 75% of the children with cancer can be cured, yet, some forms of childhood cancers have proven so resistant to treatment that, in spite of research, a cure is illusive.

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