January 08, 2005

Batra Battles P-38

Researcher Identifies Importance of Glioma Protein

In a research laboratory at Northwestern University, Dr. Sandeep Batra is fighting—and making good progress–in a life and death battle with protein. The lab, which is associated with Children’s Memorial Hospital, is partially funded through donations from The Rory David Deutsch Foundation.

The protein called p-38, belongs to a family of proteins called mitogen-activated protein kinases. “These proteins actually help the brain stem glioma tumors to survive,” Dr. Batra said. “They are important in determining how the tumor will react to treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy. They have never been investigated in this capacity before.”

However research has been conducted on p-38 in relation to other medical conditions including leukemia, and prostate cancer, and joint inflammation. Dr. Batra is excited about having access to this body of existing medical knowledge “as it will help us uncover the mystery surrounding this family of tumors. We are already looking at a couple of medications that will work better if we can block the p-38 from protecting the tumor. We are hoping to develop some oral pills that will do that blocking and make treatment more effective.”

Dr. Batra, who is a Pediatric Neuro-Oncologist, has been working on p-38 for about a year and a half under the direction of Dr. Stewart Goldman. “Dr. Goldman is my mentor, and his involvement with the Pediatric Brain Tumor Consortium is pivotal in terms of our research being translated into actual therapy, where kids ultimately get treated for aggressive gliomas in national trials. Our next logical step is to use either gene therapy or medications to block p-38 in a mouse with a glioma tumor to demonstrate that our research is effective.”

“It is tremendous to get the kind of help we get from The Rory David Deutsch Foundation. This is a fact of life in academic medicine that we are going to get limited support from governmental agencies such as the National Institute of Health (NIH). So we greatly appreciate the kind of support we get from The Foundation. It is so critical in any kind of progress we make.”

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