Applebaum Laboratory of Invasion and Molecular Therapeutics

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Our research group is taking advantage of the emerging technologies to acquire molecular data from glioblastoma and other brain tumors collected at the HBTC, in collaboration with top-notch academic centers that specialize in genomics and proteomics research. Because glioblastoma tumors are very heterogeneous, the efficacy of therapeutic interventions varies from patient to patient.

The detailed molecular information we are collecting from these tumors is the basis for the development of therapies tailored to attack each type of these highly aggressive tumors. In the past few years, we have been successfully culturing cancer stem cells from these tumors, which retain the genomic characteristics and can recreate the tumor in research animals. These remarkable developments now allows us to test the efficacy of several compounds against cancer stem cells and experimental tumors, and correlate the responses to the original molecular make up of each tumor. Some of the agents we are testing are already in clinical trials, others are in earlier development. We are then applying bioinformatics to study how the molecular networks in the tumor cells change in response to pharmacological interventions, towards the development of resistance to therapy.

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Our ultimate goals are first to identify measurable biomarkers that can predict responses to therapeutic interventions, for better selection of therapies. Second, we aim to design combination therapies that will take into account the dynamic and heterogeneous molecular characteristics of these tumors, much like the advances in the clinical management of AIDS, which have only been achieved with a multi-drug cocktail.