Dr. Anshu Malhotra – Emerging Research Grant
PCRF is proud to fund the thoughtful and dedicated research of Dr. Anshu Malhotra of Emory University. In her lay abstract, she describes her research focus: Medulloblastoma is the most common solid tumor of the cerebellum in children. The radiation treatment that offers a 70% cure rate, often leaves its survivors with long-term side effects that severely impact their quality of life. Moreover, tumor recurrence is fatal. We have previously shown that mitochondria, a cellular organelle that produces energy, play a role in medulloblastoma tumor cell proliferation. We believe that Parkin, a protein which is also responsible for the Parkinson’s disease plays an important role in disrupting mitochondria to promote tumor growth. Mitochondria also produce Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS). Under normal conditions, ROS exist in small quantities, are tightly regulated by antioxidants and help maintain the function of stem cells, aka Tumor Repopulating Cells (TRC). We have observed abnormal increase in ROS in medulloblastoma. We suspect that this can lead to tumor recurrence after radiation therapy. ROS can also be produced by a family of enzymes called NADPH Oxidases (NOX). We therefore, propose to dissect out the mechanisms regulating NOX4 and mitochondrial ROS production in medulloblastoma, leading to abnormal mitochondrial function. Our goal is to determine whether hampering ROS-mediated mitochondrial dysfunction can restore radiation-sensitivity in tumor repopulating cells. This study suggests a potentially novel treatment paradigm for medulloblastoma therapy.