News Release: Research , Winship Cancer Institute

Feb. 26,  2010

Grant Will Support Brain Tumor Diagnosis Tools

News Article ImageWinship Cancer Institute of Emory University

Scientists at Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University have received a $100,000 grant to create tools for analyzing proteins from brain tumors.

The funding comes from the Brain Tumor Funders Collaborative, a partnership including eight private philanthropic foundations in the United States and Canada. The leader of the project is Erwin Van Meir, PhD, professor of neurosurgery and hematology and medical oncology at Winship Cancer Institute.

The tools are slides that allow small amounts of cerebrospinal fluid from patients to be detected and measured. This information can give doctors insight into the biology of the patient's tumor, and possibly help them build personalized treatment plans for each patient.

"Our goal is to have a less invasive alternative to biopsy that could allow doctors to tailor therapy to the specific characteristics of a patient's tumor," says Van Meir.

Cerebrospinal fluid bathes and cushions the brain. Because of the blood-brain barrier, cerebrospinal fluid is a more likely place to find proteins given off by tumors than blood.

One example of a protein marker with predictive power is attractin, identified by Van Meir's laboratory in 2006. Attractin is normally undetectable in cerebrospinal fluid except in patients with astrocytomas, the most common form of intracranial tumor. The level of attractin was higher when the patients' tumors were growing more quickly.

The first part of the project is sorting through many known proteins and choosing markers that provide the most information about a tumor's characteristics. Winship scientists have a collection of hundreds of cerebrospinal fluid samples from patients with brain tumors that can be compared against those from patients with other diseases. The second part involves fixing antibodies to those proteins to slides, so that small amounts of cerebrospinal fluid from patients can be analyzed.


More about the Brain Tumor Funders Collaborative is available here:

Khwaja FW, Reed MS, Olson JJ, et al. Proteomic identification of biomarkers in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of astrocytoma patients. J Proteome Res 2007;6:559-70.


The Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center of Emory University is an academic health science and service center focused on missions of teaching, research, health care and public service.

Learn more about Emory’s health sciences:
Twitter: @emoryhealthsci

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