The mission of the James laboratory is to increase understanding of the molecular biology underlying the development of central nervous system cancer, and to apply this knowledge towards improved outcomes for brain tumor patients. Within this global framework, the laboratory has maintained focus on two specific areas of neuro-oncology research:
Current Research Projects
Analysis of amplified and mutant epidermal growth factor receptor in malignant gliomas
In addition to its amplification, the EGFR gene is frequently mutated in malignant gliomas. EGFR mutations result in two classes of aberrant receptor: those having extracellular domain alterations (deletion or missense) and those having deletions of intracellular domain sequences. The functional and biological consequences of these mutations, as well as therapeutic approaches for exploiting amplified and mutant EGFR, have been and continue to be subjects of research interest for the laboratory.
Xenograft model testing of experimental therapies
The number of anti-cancer therapeutics, combination therapies, and therapy regimen variations to consider for use in the treatment of cancer patients is substantial and rapidly increasing. A necessary intermediate between the evaluation of novel therapeutics in cell culture and evaluation through clinical trial activity involves therapeutic testing in animal models. The laboratory has established an intracranial bioluminescence-enabled xenograft panel approach for pre-clinical testing of glioblastoma candidate therapies, and we have adapted this system for high throughput therapy screening that will expedite the identification of the most promising approaches for treating patients.
Pediatric Brain Tumor Models
The laboratory is active in the development of pediatric brain tumor models, and the utilization of these models for therapeutic testing, as well as for investigating tumor molecular biology. Specific projects include the development a xenograft panel for atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumor (ATRT), a highly malignant brain tumor of young children, and a syngeneic, immunocompetent mouse model for pediatric astrocytoma.