Neurosurgeon-in-Chief and Chairman, Department of Neurosurgery, Brigham and Women's Hospital
Glioblastomas (GBM) are one of the deadliest forms of cancer. Understanding the biology of these tumors is critical for developing new therapeutic strategies.
The Chiocca lab is deeply interested both in the biological basis of brain cancer and in designing experimental therapeutics. We have been focused on developing novel genetic therapies, with one major approach being the engineering of viruses that can kill tumor cells without affecting normal brain cells. We are currently combining this research with novel pharmacological and immunotherapeutic approaches for brain cancer.
One major project is the preclinical evaluation of oncolytic viruses for glioma therapy. This project focuses on the development of a recombinant Herpes virus that specifically kills brain cancer cells and is currently in phase I clinical trial. As part of this work, we study how to improve immune responses against GBM. Another major topic of interest is the development of novel anti-invasive and anti-angiogenic drugs for gliomas. In this project, we seek to understand the molecular mechanisms of inhibitors that act via an enzyme called GSK3 that reduces tumor dispersion in the brain. We are also involved in studying a possible role for viruses such as CMV in leading to GBM initiation and/or progression. Finally, we also have been interested in the epigenetic role that non-coding RNAs play in allowing GBM cells to rapidly adapt to the tumor microenvironment. This is a novel mechanism that allows GBM to escape and evade treatment.