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NF Center Researchers Report a Breakthrough in Pediatric Brain Tumor Modeling

One of the major barriers to discovering and testing new drugs for low-grade gliomas in children is the paucity of preclinical small animal models of these tumors. Moreover, these tumors are notoriously difficult in establish in mice due to their intrinsic slow growth rates and heavy dependence on non-cancerous cells in the brain for growth factors.

To overcome this barrier, Dr. Corina Anastasaki, Research Assistant Professor in Neurology, used human induced pluripotent stem cell engineering to identify mouse strains capable of supporting low-grade glioma growth, as well as to discover the progenitor cells from which these tumors likely arise from in people.

Importantly, Dr. Anastasaki and her team at the Washington University NF Center, along with Dr. Fausto Rodriguez, Chair of Neuropathology at University of California Los Angeles, were able to grow actual human low-grade glioma tumors from patients in genetically engineered mice. These findings open the door to developing a series of patient-derived low-grade brain tumors directly from the operating room for future drug discovery and evaluation.

This study was published in Acta Neuropathologica Communications.