Research

Empowering Brain Cancer Research Through Tissue Donation

Pediatric brain cancer research is not proceeding as fast as it could and survival rates have flatlined because tissue for research is scarce.

The Power of Tissue Donation

Autopsy Tissue

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Empowered Research

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Medical Advances

The precious gift of your child’s autopsy tissue will empower research so breakthroughs can be made and a cure can be found for this devastating disease. Here you will find a listing of some pediatric cancer publications that 1) explain the need for autopsy tissue and 2) highlight some of the research breakthroughs that have been made possible because of autopsy tissue.  *Some articles have been renamed for those of us that are not STEM professionals.

Recent Publications from Centers of Excellence

Love Never Dies
Through Gift From a Child, parents can turn loss and grief into action.

A  recent collaborative effort by the entire Gift from a Child team was published in the National Funeral Directors Association summer newsletter. The project, lead by Melissa Williams, GFAC Tissue Navigator  was part of our outreach efforts into adjacent organizations to educate and collaborate.

Medical journal articles report that many bereaved parents who have lost children to brain cancers are interested in supporting medical research through postmortem tissue donations. Their greatest hope is that families in the future will be spared the same loss because of scientific advancements enabled through these research donations. The overall program is meant to be gentle on families that make the decision to donate. They are provided with information about how the program
works and a general timeline of the process, and will sign a consent for the tissue donation (research autopsy).

Donation can take place wherever the death occurs – hospital, home or hospice – and the family is given all the time they want and need with their child at the time of death.  Read Full Publication

Harmonization of Post-mortem Donations for Pediatric Brain Tumors and Molecular Characterization of Difuse Midline Gliomas

​An important study from our team at Children’s National. Children diagnosed with brain tumors have the lowest overall survival of all pediatric cancers.  To address the paucity of tissue for biological studies, we have established a comprehensive protocol for the coordination and processing of donated specimens at postmortem. Since 2010, 60 postmortem pediatric brain tumor donations from 26 institutions were coordinated and collected. Patient derived xenograft models and cell cultures were successfully created (76% and 44% of attempts respectively), irrespective of postmortem processing time. Histological analysis of mid-sagittal whole brain sections revealed evidence of treatment response, immune cell infiltration and the migratory path of infiltrating H3K27M DMG cells into other midline structures and cerebral lobes. Sequencing of primary and disseminated tumors confirmed the presence of oncogenic driver mutations and their obligate partners. Our findings highlight the importance of postmortem tissue donations as an invaluable resource to accelerate research, potentially leading to improved outcomes for children with aggressive brain tumors. Read Full Publication

Dr. Monje-Deisseroth and her team at Stanford University recently published a paper detailing how gliomas are able to “hijack” the brain’s communication system.

Published in  Nature: High-grade gliomas are lethal brain cancers whose progression is robustly regulated by neuronal activity. Activity-regulated release of growth factors promotes glioma growth, but this alone is insufficient to explain the effect that neuronal activity exerts on glioma progression. Here we show that neuron and glioma interactions include electrochemical communication through bona fide AMPA receptor-dependent neuron–glioma synapses. Read More

Congratulations to two of our Center of Excellence teams lead by Dr Javad Nazarian and Dr. Michelle Monje on their recent groundbreaking research publication. Due in part to increased access to post-mortem tissuethe teams were able to study a larger sample of DIPG tumors.  Diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma is a lethal pediatric brain cancer characterized by H3K27M histone mutation. Nagaraja et al. characterize a large cohort of rare primary tumors and normal pontine tissue to reveal active regulatory element heterogeneity dependent upon the histone variant and cell context in which the mutation occurs. Read More

Research Breakthroughs Resulting from Autopsy Tissue 
*Some titles have been changed for general public understanding

Why Autopsy Tissue is Needed to Empower Research

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