Malignant brain tumors, including glioblastomas, diffuse intrinsic pontine gliomas (DIPGs), medulloblastomas and ependymomas, are among the most lethal cancers and inflict a disproportionate impact on younger populations. Effective new therapies are needed to alleviate the suffering and improve the prognosis of children facing these central nervous system tumors. The clinical and laboratory research of neurosurgeon-scientist David J. Daniels, M.D., Ph.D., focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of these tumors.
Dr. Daniels and his colleagues seek to develop and rigorously test techniques that facilitate aggressive surgical resection for pediatric brain tumors, while maintaining or improving patient safety. These include integrating functional imaging, including functional MRI and diffusion tensor imaging tractography, into image-guidance systems and intraoperative MRI. They are also pursuing novel strategies such as fluorescence-guided resection and ultraearly diagnosis of tumor types.
Over the last decade, a wealth of new information about the molecular diversity of these tumors has emerged. Whereas whole categories of tumors were once treated with identical therapies, physicians now have the ability to detect unique features of a patient's tumor and tailor treatment accordingly. Dr. Daniels' lab seeks to develop novel strategies and therapies based on the unique molecular underpinnings of individual brain tumors.
- Understanding how histone mutations contribute to tumor formation and growth in DIPGs and develop molecularly targeted therapy for treatment
- Development of novel STAT3 inhibitors that target malignant brain tumors
- Ultrarapid diagnosis of tumor subtypes to allow intraoperative diagnosis
- Development and refinement of fluorescence-guided resection that is specific to tumor subtype
- Determining the optimal strategies for treating malignant pediatric brain tumors
Significance to patient care
The overall goal of Dr. Daniels' research is to improve the prognosis of children with malignant brain tumors through early diagnosis of tumor types and by developing targeted therapy based on the unique properties of each tumor.