Researchers at Temple University’s Center for Neurovirology and Cancer Biology (CNVCB) are asking themselves what they can do with $6.4 million.
The center was recently awarded a $6.4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
The grant, which will be distributed over a five-year period, will be overseen by Dr. Kamel Khalili.
“The goal of this grant is to study the mechanism that is involved in the development of brain tumors,” Khalili said.
Khalili and a team of investigators, including faculty, graduate students and undergraduate students, will use the grant to study the link between the JC Virus, the common human neurotropic virus, and Medulloblastoma, a common tumorous type of pediatric brain cancer.
“In this project we should be able to extend the observations that we obtained in the previous round of funding and identify other targets in the cells which are affected,” Khalili said.
The team will replicate the JC Virus and insert the virus into lab mice. The mice, which serve as models, produce results similar to those that occur in humans. This will allow the researchers to conclude if the JC Virus contributes to the development of brain tumors in children and adolescents.
Most of the 70 to 80 percent of people whose bodies inhabit the virus generally do not develop brain tumors because the JC Virus remains dormant. While most do not produce brain tumors, there are many warning signs of brain tumors thought to be generated by the JC Virus.
In most cases symptoms depend on where the tumor is located in the brain. Warning signals like abnormal neurological traits or effects on vision and balance can be confirmed by obtaining an MRI.
The NIH grant will allow for an extension of the research previously done by Khalili and his team of researchers. This is the second grant Khalili has received, and the third given to the CNVCB.
Khalili and his group will devote much of their attention to the chemistry and genetics of the cells inside the brain tumors.
“We need to learn more about the tumors, and the information is going to be tremendous to take us to the place that will be able to develop strategies against the tumors,” he said.
While radiology is currently being utilized for the treatment of brain tumors, it is Khalili’s hope to perhaps come up with a more targeted form of treatment that would be “less invasive for the normal cells and specifically kills the tumor cells.”
But he does anticipate finding a solution with the grant awarded by the NIH. “We are hoping to cure the problem…that’s our target,” he said.
Lindsay WaltersJosephine Munis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org