2011 Researcher Dr. Ogilvie

Name and Title: Dr. Tamra Ogilvie, an Assistant Professor in the Regenerative Medicine Program in the Department of Biochemistry & Medical Genetics
Location: University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Grant Amount: $25,000
Title of Project: Comparing the stem cell properties of the most invasive and non-invasive malignant brain tumour cells.

 Research Summary: 

The existence of a brain tumor stem cell has changed how we think about cell-specific targeted therapies; however, several issues still plague current cancer stem cell theory. For example, it is not known whether brain tumor stem cells are directly responsible for recurrence of the most aggressive tumors such as the adult glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) and pediatric medulloblastoma. My labratory is interested in evaluating the relationship between the invasive and stem cell properties of primary malignant brain tumors.

Using a variety of techniques, the proposed study involves isolating and expanding individual cell clones from GBM and medulloblastoma cell lines. 3-dimensional tumor spheres will be prepared and implanted into a collagen matrix, used as a surrogate for infiltration of tumour cells in the brain. Invasive and non-invasive clones will be selected for further analysis. Both the functional and molecular stem cell properties will be compared between invasive and non-invasive malignant brain tumour clones.

Since the highly infiltrative nature of malignant brain tumors is a major factor in poor patient prognosis, a more comprehensive understanding of their stem cell properties will shed light on the true correlation of a “brain tumor stem cell phenotype” with clinical outcome.

Research Outcome:

We have recently identified a “marker”, called CD271, on the surface of medulloblastoma cells that help define the most immature tumor-maintaining cells called “stem cells”. Using these cellular “fingerprints”, we were able to pluck the stem cells from a larger, more diverse cell population in a dish. Our results also suggest that this marker may be specific to one of the medulloblastoma subtypes. Now, we are investigating whether other markers, in addition to CD271, can be used to select for medulloblastoma cell populations that will both initiate and maintain tumor growth in a dish and a mouse model of the disease. In addition, we would also like to identify fast moving cells that escape current treatments and contribute to tumor recurrence.

This will enable us to move forward with drug discovery studies where we hope to target cells with a stem cell or fast moving, mobile cell signature in a more specific manner. Concurrent targeting of multiple cell types would make medulloblastoma and other pediatric brain tumours much more manageable, thereby lessening the impact of harsh, toxic therapies such as radiation and chemotherapy on the developing nervous system of child patients. Read more...

Return to the 2011 Research Grant list here.

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