The Childhood Cancer Blog

Hope on the Horizon for DIPG Patients - Meet Dr. Michelle Monje Deisseroth

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Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG) is the second most common malignant brain tumor in children. It's a particularly devastating diagnosis because there is no cure, and it is difficult to treat because the tumor cells grow in between and around normal, healthy cells. Most often, doctors cannot remove the tumor because in doing so they would also damage the healthy brain tissue around the tumor, which is critical to survival.  
Michelle Monje Deisseroth, MD, PhD
However, hope may be on the horizon. Michelle Monje Deisseroth, MD, PhD, an ALSF 'A' Award grantee from Stanford University, is studying a combination of two drugs to treat children with DIPG. Dr. Monje provided us with the update below on her progress:

With an essentially 100%, 5 year mortality rate, new therapeutic strategies for DIPG are in dire need. As a direct result of my ALSF funding, we have been able to screen our DIPG cell lines against many potential therapies. We have been performing single cell analyses of gene expression and, preliminarily, have found 3 molecularly-defined subpopulations of tumor cells. This work is ongoing. At the same time, we have been working to define effective treatment strategies for DIPG and this translational effort has resulted in a clinical trial proposal that we hope will come to fruition. Finally, as science frequently leads us down unexpected paths, we have found important microenvironmental interactions that promote the proliferation of both normal and malignant glial precursor cells, including DIPG.