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A Kids’ Brain Tumor Cure (AKBTC) established the Pediatric Low-Grade Astrocytoma (PLGA) Program at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in 2007.  The only dedicated pediatric low-grade glioma program in the world, our purpose is to find more effective, less toxic treatments and a cure for children battling brain tumors.  AKBTC recently joined with the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation (PBTF) to become the PLGA Fund at PBTF, and is thus optimally positioned to provide the kind of research support that is necessary  to make cures a reality.  Our super-charged agenda to identify targeted drug therapies for pediatric brain cancer is stronger than ever.

Please read on for more information.

As shown in the figure below, low-grade astrocytomas are the most common form of pediatric brain cancer.  Current therapies, while improved over older versions, still leave the especially vulnerable, developing brains of children with significant collateral damage.  While PLGA  survival rates are high, many patients suffer life-long effects on cognitive and other functions.  What our patients desperately need are new therapies that attack only cancer cells, leaving healthy cells unharmed.  Key to understanding and defeating this disease is the fact that brain cancer is a diverse collection of different tumor types.  Our team of basic research scientists and clinicians combine a multi-disciplinary approach to characterize this diversity in great molecular detail and to identify unique vulnerabilities in cancer subtypes that can be exploited to therapeutic advantage.

Pediatric low-grade astrocytomas are the most common form of childhood brain cancer.

Guided by founders Mark Kieran, MD, PhD, Clinical Director (2007 – 2018) and Charles Stiles, PhD, Scientific Director (2007 -2018), the Dana-Farber PLGA program became the standard for research and care of pediatric brain tumors at one the nation’s top-ranking pediatric cancer hospitals.  The program has initiated landmark projects including the international tissue bank, the invention and launching of three new clinical diagnostic tests based on discoveries by program researchers, and 4 national clinical trials—more clinical trials for this disease than ever before.  Each of these efforts has kick-started additional funding, as well as national and international collaborations.

In 2018, leadership passed to Daphne Haas-Kogan, MD, Clinical Director (2018) and Rosalind Segal, MD, PhD, Scientific Director (2018)  who built on the tremendous base that Drs. Kieran and Stiles established over the past eleven years. Drs. Segal and Haas-Kogan oversaw the expansion of the program to eight multidisciplinary research groups of structural, chemical, and metabolic biologists, and genome scientists, and a clinic that now sees on average more than 90 new patients each year.

Pratiti (Mimi) Bandopadhayay, MBBS, PhD

In  2019, Pratiti (Mimi) Bandopadhayay, MBBS, PhD, became the overall Director of the PLGA Program at Dana-Farber.  A pediatric neuro-oncologist and scientist within the Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, an assistant professor of pediatrics at HMS, and an associate member of the Broad Institute of MIT, Mimi applies integrative genomic approaches to identify targetable drivers of pediatric brain tumors and characterize resistance mechanisms.  In addition to her efforts in the lab, Mimi is a member of the clinical pediatric neuro-oncology team at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s, contributing to the care of children with brain tumors.

New also in 2019, we have  an internal advisory committee for the PLGA Program:

  • Scott A. Armstrong, MD, PhD, Chair, Department of Pediatric Oncology, DFCI
  • Daphne Haas-Kogan, MD, Chair, Department of Radiation Oncology, DFCI
  • Katherine E. Warren, MD, Director of Pediatric Neuro-Oncology, DFCI
  • Michael J. Eck, MD, PhD, Professor of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, HMS
  • Rameen Beroukhim, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Medicine, HMS

 

As we go forward, we are forever grateful to all of our leaders, past and present, for their tireless dedication and expert guidance.

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