Interdisciplinary Initiatives Program Round 9 - 2018

Fan Yang, Bioengineering and Orthopaedic Surgery
Julien Sage, Pediatrics and Genetics
Gerald Grant, Neurosurgery

Brain metastasis is a cancer that has spread to the brain from another location in the body. It affects nearly one in four cancer patients and is a major cause of cancer-related mortality. While standard cancer treatments (surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy) have improved overall patient survival for primary cancer, treatment for brain metastasis remains elusive. Primary lung cancer has the highest incidence for brain metastasis, and small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is the most aggressive and the most metastatic. To address the urgent need for improving the outcomes for SCLC patients with brain metastasis, it is critical to develop safe and effective methods that allow enhanced targeting and eradication of metastatic brain tumor cells.

The proposed work will be carried out by an interdisciplinary team comprised of basic and clinician scientists. We will build on our complementary expertise in biomaterials, stem cells, cancer biology, and animal models to validate the efficacy of nanoparticle-engineered fat derived stem cells for targeting and eradicating SCLC-initiated brain metastasis. The potential of employing stem cells as drug delivery vehicles for targeting SCLC-initiated brain metastases has never been interrogated, yielding a unique opportunity to remove a critical bottleneck in treating this devastating disease. The outcomes of the proposed research will provide novel tools for effective targeting and delivery of anti-tumor genes to improve the treatment outcomes of patients suffering from SCLC-initiated brain metastasis. While the proposed study will focus on SCLCinitiated brain metastases as a model disease, the concept of employing non-viral engineered stem cells for targeting and eradicating brain metastases may be broadly applicable for treating other types of cancer metastases.