Project Description

Dr. Shulin Li
Translational Research Grant
– Neuroblastoma

MD Anderson Cancer Center

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Dr. Shulin Li’s Research

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Dr. Li is improving the quality of life and survival rate for children with Neuroblastoma. Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) in blood, considered to be the ‘seeds’ of tumor metastasis, are rare cells that detach themselves from primary tumors and travel in the blood as residual disease, potentially colonizing as metastases in distant organs. Therefore, capture and detection of CTCs may serve as a tool for early detection of residual disease, relapse, and metastasis. While available CTC detecting markers such as EpCAM and cytokeratins are ineffective for neuroblastoma (NB), innovative tools for universal CTC detection are needed.

Dr. Li has discovered that cell surface vimentin (CSV) protein is present on the surface of CTCs but not normal cells in peripheral blood in patients using an antibody 84-1 generated from the researcher and a CSV CTC analysis system developed in the MD Anderson lab. The goal of this study is to explore this tool for CTC analysis in NB patients. The two specific aims are:

  1. Identify the risk of tumor relapse at an early time point after clinical remission in NB patients by determining the threshold CSV CTC number or the change
    in CSV CTC number.
  2. Monitor treatment response to maintenance therapy in NB patients after clinical remission using change in CSV CTC number.
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Some people say that children make up 10% of our cancer population, but they are 100% of our future! ~ Dr. Alex Huang, Case Western