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 […]