Perhaps one of the biggest challenges to treating a patient with a malignant and aggressive brain tumor is the tumor's resistance to conventional treatments such as:
- The tumor is surgically resected, but grows back.
- Treatment with chemotherapy generates resistance on a number of levels in the tumor metabolism that cause further medical treatments to be ineffective.
- Mutations in the tumor cells protect them from irradiation.
Faced with these obstacles, researchers are developing exciting new approaches to treating and imaging malignant brain tumors and unresectable benign brain tumors. Our ability to understand these lesions and image them as they progress or respond to therapy is key to eventually establishing a method of control.
Research in the Laboratory of Clinically-Related Neuro-Oncology revolves around providing various animal brain tumor models for collaborators and other individuals across campus. As a neurosurgeon, Jeffrey Olson, MD, has special access to fresh human tumor specimens for establishment of primary brain tumor cultures and tumor neurospheres. As a surgeon, he and his technician excel in the care and management of animals with tumors, processing their tissues and facilitating the needs of other investigators not familiar with the details of utilizing such models. This allows investigators from Emory, other institutions, and industry without this expertise to test their exciting new ideas. Additionally, Dr. Olson is the primary contributor to the long standing Emory Brain Tumor Bank. His additions to, and maintenance of, this resource serve as important support for his lab and many others across the Emory campus.
The Laboratory of Clinically-Related Neuro-oncology has proven to be a practical site for medical study, resident and fellow training in laboratory research and practical application of research ideas. This includes clinical questions and protocols related to new chemotherapeutic agents, targeted molecular agents and imaging agents to undergo critical testing. This facilitates the developers of these new concepts to provide pharmaceutical companies, the FDA and other entities data to move forward with human applications of these advances.