Photo of smiling female undergraduate student Vilina Mehta.
2021 Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant

Home Department: Human Biology
Mentor: Michelle Monje (Neurology & Neurological Sciences)

“Targeting GABAergic Neuron-Glioma Synapses in Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG) through Anti-Epileptic Drug Repurposing”

Recent work from the Monje lab uncovered the effects of neuronal activity on diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) progression, as electrochemical communication between neurons and glioma promotes DIPG growth. This raises the possibility that modulating neuronal activity with clinically available anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) may reduce DIPG growth. However, because glioma cells are electrically responsive, medications designed to reduce electrical activity may have a direct effect on glioma cells. Vilina is performing computational RNAseq analysis of gene expression of AED targets in glioma cells and quantification of proliferation in AED-treated glioma xenografts to investigate the impact of AEDs on DIPG growth.