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Gutmann Awarded New Grant To Study The Immunology of Brain Tumors

David H. Gutmann, MD, PhD, the Donald O. Schnuck Family Professor and Director of the Neurofibromatosis (NF) Center at Washington University, received a new grant from the National Cancer Institute to study how immune cells control brain tumor formation and growth.

Prior studies spearheaded by former trainees in the Gutmann laboratory, Drs. Xiaofan Guo and Yuan Pan, revealed that immune cells from the blood, called T lymphocytes (T cells), are critical for the growth of a type of brain tumor commonly seen in children with NF1. These brain tumors arise within the optic nerve (optic gliomas) and can lead to vision loss in affected individuals. Using mice that also form optic gliomas, Gutmann and his team are trying to determine how T cells enter the tumors, how they become activated, and how they drive tumor growth.

Since T cells originate outside of the brain, Gutmann and his team hope that these investigations will lead to alternative ways to block tumor growth in children with NF1.