Suzana A. Kahn, Ph.D.


The research in our lab is focused on characterizing cells that initiate cancer in the brain. Glioblastomas are the most aggressive brain tumors and are exceptionally difficult to treat - in part because conventional therapies fail to eliminate the cells that initiate the cancer. Our aim is to identify actively self-renewing cells by means of Wnt pathway correlated biochemical activities and to provide a functional method, rather than a phenotypic method, for the isolation of cancer initiating cells. To do so, we will fractionate freshly isolated glioblastoma initiating cells based on the intra-cellular activity of Wnt pathway, and assess their biological properties, such as self-renewal, tumorigenicity and resistance to traditional tumor therapies, of the different cell populations. Our hope is to elucidate the role of different glioblastoma initiating cells (GIC) populations in tumors resistant to traditional cancer therapies. The results of this study may guide the development of improved molecular diagnostic tools, as well as treatment modalities specific to cellular events that are critical for tumor growth and recurrence. Implementation of targeted therapies based on isolated GICs will improve the outcome for patients with this malignant tumor.

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