New Grant Aims to Jumpstart Treatment Development for Patients with Rare Pediatric Ependymal Tumors

— Categories: CERN Research Articles   Ependymoma Research Articles   Press Release   Ependymoma Community     Posted on February 7, 2024

National Brain Tumor Society (NBTS) is excited to announce that Johannes Gojo, MD, PhD, of Medical University of Vienna (Medizinischen Universit├Ąt Wien), is the recipient of the first-ever CERN PFA Ependymoma Translational Research Award.

Today, the National Brain Tumor Society (NBTS) announced that Johannes Gojo, MD, PhD, of the Medical University of Vienna (Medizinischen Universität Wien), is the recipient of the first-ever CERN PFA Ependymoma Translational Research Award. Dr. Gojo will lead a renowned, interdisciplinary team of pediatric brain cancer experts on a project titled “Targeting DNA damage response to eradicate ependymoma persister cells (DEEpend).” With the overall aim of translating promising research into the clinic for a particularly aggressive type of pediatric brain tumor, the group will receive $450,000 over three years.

“With great intentionality, we launched this grant because of the clear, unmet need for research in posterior fossa ependymoma (PFA), an underserved cancer that is devastating for the children and families in our community,” said Kimberly Wallgren, executive director of the CERN Foundation, a program of the National Brain Tumor Society. “PFA ependymoma is a difficult disease to research and there are few laboratories or life science companies dedicated to this tumor type. Our hope with this award is to accelerate scientific findings through Dr. Gojo’s translational research plan and to further stimulate additional and subsequent efforts to change the outcome for children diagnosed with this disease.”

The scientific aims of the grant build on previous research, which uncovered that a proportion of PFA cells within a tumor harbor stem-cell like features and give rise to recurrent tumors. Based on preliminary data from the Gojo lab, the project will investigate whether these “persister cells” can be targeted by adding inhibitors of DNA damage repair to standard treatment with chemotherapy and radiation therapy. In order to enable the most direct translation of research findings into a potential clinical trial, the team will make use of currently-available, extensive datasets of ependymomas; multiple types of ependymoma models; and high-throughput screening of already-approved drugs to identify the best combination therapies ready to advance to the clinic as a novel treatment for PFA ependymoma patients.

“We are excited to receive the award, which enables us to investigate how we can better eradicate therapy-resistant ependymoma cells, aiming at developing more effective therapies against this aggressive tumor type,” said Dr. Gojo. 

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