AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 29, Number 2, 2020


Examining a Small Molecule Inhibitor in the Treatment of Aggressive Brain Tumor Type

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Fast growing brain tumors known as glioblastoma multiforme often present treatment challenges due to their diverse tumor cell types and their ability to spread into healthy brain tissue. Hatem Sabaawy, MD, PhD, resident member of Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, is the senior investigator on research examining the impact of a novel small molecule inhibitor in the treatment of glioblastoma multiforme, using a patient’s own tumors cells with patient derived organoids. Dr. Sabaawy, who is also a member of the Clinical Investigations and Precision Therapeutics Program at Rutgers Cancer Institute and an associate professor of medicine at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, shares more about the findings.

Q: What prompted your laboratory to focus on this type of brain tumor?

A: Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the most common and deadly primary brain tumor. GBMs are thought to derive from neuroglial stem or progenitor cells. At our partner hospital, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH), an RWJBarnabas Health facility, GBM patients may undergo surgery at RWJUH, then receive radiotherapy and concomitant or alternating chemotherapy. This treatment could be followed by anti-angiogenic therapy, yet, these aggressive GBMs almost always rapidly recur. Despite the advances in genomic medicine, individually tailored strategies based on tumor-intrinsic dominant genomic, epigenomic and antigenic tumor profiles are unavailable even though they may ultimately improve outcomes. Through a collaboration with neurosurgeon Shabbar Danish, MD, director, of the RWJ Gamma Knife Center, we can take surgical glioblastoma tissues removed from consented GBM patients and derive a new technology in the laboratory to generate patient derived organoids. With these organoids, we can then discover and validate new small molecule inhibitors for targeted therapy against GBMs from each patient.

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