McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine faculty member Joseph Glorioso III, PhD (pictured), Professor and Chairman of the Department of Molecular Genetics & Biochemistry at the University of Pittsburgh, and other cancer researchers at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI) will further develop novel treatments for brain tumors through a new, 5-year, $6.24 million grant to the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
The grant from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) will fund three projects aimed at developing cutting-edge treatment strategies for a type of brain tumor known as gliomas. Dr. Glorioso is co-investigator along with Paola Grandi, PhD, an Assistant Professor in the Departments of Neurological Surgery and Microbiology and Molecular Genetics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, on the project entitled, “Viral vectors (a modified herpes virus) to kill tumor cells while leaving other cells intact.”
The three projects are led by principal investigator Ian Pollack, MD, Chief of the Division of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Children’s Hospital and Director of the UPCI Brain Tumor Program. This is the second 5-year grant the Brain Tumor Program project has received from the NINDS.
“In the laboratory over the last 5 years, our researchers have developed three unique and promising approaches to treating gliomas, which are the most common form of brain tumors,” Dr. Pollack said. “Over the next 5 years, our goal is to take these approaches from the laboratory to clinical trial and begin to have a direct impact on patients diagnosed with brain tumors.”
Broadly, the overall aims of Dr. Glorioso and his research team are:
- To achieve a greater understanding of the genetic basis of latency and neurovirulence.
- To precisely define viral envelope glycoprotein-receptor interactions that occur during virus attachment and entry and devise strategies for retargeting virus infection through recognition of novel receptors.
- To develop HSV as a gene transfer vector suitable for treatment of nervous system diseases such as cancer (e.g. glioblasoma), neurodegenerative conditions (e.g. diabetic neuropathy), auto-immune brain disease (e.g. multiple sclerosis), and a variety of types of pain.
Every year about 19,000 children and adults are diagnosed with primary brain tumors, according to the National Cancer Institute. Malignant gliomas are the most common, accounting for more than half and including astrocytomas, oligodendrogliomas, and glioblastoma multiforme.
Illustration: McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine.
Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC News Release (04/24/08)
Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News (04/24/08)
Medical News Today (04/28/08)