Vice Chairman, Department of Neurosurgery, Brigham and Women's Hospital
Principal Faculty, Harvard Stem Cell Institute, Harvard University
Successful treatment of CNS pathologies remains one of the greatest challenges. The recognition that different stem cell types, including mesenchymal and neural stem cells can integrate appropriately throughout the mammalian brain following transplantation has unveiled new possibilities for their use in neural transplantation. Our laboratory has shown that different stem cell types home to sites of cerebral pathology and thus can be armed with therapeutic transgenes, a strategy that can be used to inhibit tumor growth by targeting angiogenesis or selectively inducing apoptosis in proliferating tumor cells in the brain.
Our research is based on developing clinically translatable models of both primary and metastatic brain tumors and stem cell based cell surface receptor targeted therapeutics that simultaneously target cell death and proliferation pathways in an effort to eradicate brain tumors. Inherently linked to the brain tumor therapy paradigm, we employ fluorescent/bioluminescent imaging markers and optical imaging techniques to track stem cells, image apoptosis and changes in tumor volumes in real time in vivo. We also explore the use of microRNAs inhibitors to target brain tumor specific microRNAs and the combination of clinically approved drugs, microRNA inhibitors and shRNAs with therapeutic stem cells in a variety of brain tumor models.