The History of Cancer Neuroscience

Sarah DeWeerdt, reporter for The Transmitter, interviews Dr. Gutmann and other leaders in the Cancer Neuroscience field. Read this excellent feature article at

Nf1 mutation indirectly impairs mouse microglia function

Previous studies performed in collaboration with Professor Kettenmann at the Max Delbrück Center in Berlin found that Nf1-mutant mice have a sex-dependent defect in microglia function. In this prior work, we showed that only male Nf1-mutant microglia have impaired purinergic signaling. These male Nf1-mutant microglia also have reduced process arborization and surveillance capacity. In this […]

Developing humanized mouse models of pediatric low grade gliomas

September 2022 One of the major barriers to identifying and evaluating new therapies for pediatric low-grade brain tumors is their inability to grow in culture or in mice. Leveraging human induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC) engineering, RNA sequencing, and genetically engineered mouse strains, Dr. Corina Anastasaki and colleagues devised methods to bypass this limitation in […]

Epilepsy drug stops nervous system growth in mice predisposed to cancer

By Tamara Bhandari May 19, 2022 People with neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) develop tumors on nerves throughout their bodies. These tumors are usually benign — meaning they don’t spread to other parts of the body and are not considered life threatening — but they can still cause serious medical problems, especially when they form in […]

Determining why children with asthma have a lower incidence of brain tumors

As a physician who cares for children at risk of developing cancer, I am interested in defining the factors that contribute to tumor formation and progression. Our clinical and laboratory research team is focused on the Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) cancer predisposition syndrome, in which children are prone to the development of low-grade brain tumors […]

New autism gene discovered using human mini-brains

Neurodevelopmental disorders are often caused by losses of large pieces of chromosomes containing many genes. This is also true for a subset of individuals with Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) who have severe developmental delays and intellectual disabilities. These NF1 patients often harbor a large deletion involving the NF1 gene on chromosome 17q11.2, termed a total […]

Nerve activity drives brain tumor formation and growth

Based on the pioneering work of our collaborator, Dr. Michelle Monje at Stanford University, we now appreciate that the activity of neurons can increase the growth of cancer cells. While the role of nerve cells in tumor progression is becoming better understood, the importance of neuronal activity to tumor formation is less clear, particularly in […]

Neurons activate T cells to create a supportive microenvironment for brain tumor formation and growth

Defining the neuroimmune-cancer cell axis For the past 25 years, my laboratory has developed and employed genetically engineered mice to understand why brain tumors form in children with the Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) cancer predisposition syndrome1. Using these authenticated preclinical mouse models of NF1-associated optic gliomas (low-grade astrocytomas of the optic nerves)2, we showed that […]

Modeling Neurofibromas Using Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells and Genetically Engineered Mice

Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) is a common tumor predisposition syndrome caused by NF1 gene mutation, in which affected individuals develop Schwann cell lineage peripheral nerve sheath tumors (neurofibromas). To investigate human neurofibroma pathogenesis, the Gutmann laboratory in collaboration with Dr. Lu Le (University of Texas, Southwestern) differentiated a series of isogenic, patient-specific NF1-mutant human induced pluripotent […]