Children with Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) develop brain tumors that form within the optic pathway, the nerves that carry vision from the eye to the brain. At present, it is not possible to predict which children with NF1 will develop these optic pathway gliomas (OPGs), and who will lose vision from their tumor. Recent studies from the laboratory of Dr. David H. Gutmann, the Donald O. Schnuck Family Professor and Director of the Washington University NF Center, have identified two potential factors that may underlie OPG formation and associated vision loss.
Based on these exciting findings, Dr. Gutmann and his team were recently awarded a new grant from the National Cancer Institute to study how specific mutations in the NF1 gene, as well as patient sex, dictate optic glioma development and vision decline. Funding from this grant will enable the team to use novel genetically-engineered mouse models to define the contributions of these important determinants in NF1.
“We are delighted to receive this funding,” says Gutmann, “as it will allow us to first determine the mechanisms by which each of these factors operate in NF1, and eventually, use this knowledge to develop better risk assessment and treatment strategies for children with NF1.”