Pejman Jabehdar Maralani, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
Generously funded by: Venera Fazio, Italian Canadian writer and poet
Project Title: “Advanced magnetic resonance imaging for detection of tumour regions enriched with glioma stem cell niches”
Glioblastoma is the most common primary malignant neoplasm in adults. Despite technological and therapeutic advances, median survival time remains 15-18 months. Glioma stem cells (GSCs) are recognized as a treatment resistant population in glioblastoma and one of the underlying mechanisms for its recurrence. Despite the pivotal role GSCs play, current technologies are unable to detect GSCs for therapeutic targeting or monitoring, impeding further investigation into the development of effective therapies.
In this project, we propose the use of advanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques to detect and identify areas (termed “niches”) that are enriched with GSCs. Common features of these niches are low oxygen levels, or high vascularity. Our team recently demonstrated that an advanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technique, which will be employed in this project, can identify tumour regions with low oxygen in patients with glioblastoma. In this project, we will use additional techniques to determine whether GSC niches can be targeted non-invasively.
Validation of this technique would provide a method for clinicians to pre-operatively and aggressively target GSC areas for surgical removal or radiation boost. It will also allow researchers to monitor the therapeutic adaptations that occur during treatment, for a better understanding of tumour biology.
What receiving this award means to Pejman:
Glioblastoma is an aggressive brain cancer with a poor prognosis. Although recent advances have improved patient survival to approximately 18 months, significant research is still needed before this cancer can be eradicated. Unfortunately, research is an expensive endeavour, and I am very thankful to Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada and its donors for providing the opportunity for me to investigate the use of advance magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in the detection of glioma stem cells. This research would not be possible without their support. My hope is to help improve patient outcomes by mapping out the stem cells for targeting during surgery and radiation therapy.
Update: October, 2020
Pejman Jabehdar Maralani is a neuroradiologist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and University of Toronto. The primary goal of is his research is the investigation and application of advanced MRI techniques in the detection of tumour hypoxia, which is when there is low levels of oxygen and contributes to tumour aggression and recurrence. Support from the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada (BTFC) has helped with his previous work, resulting in a high impact publication. With BTFC’s help, he has extended this research to investigate the application of advanced MRI techniques in the detection of glioma stem cells in the hopes that this knowledge can be used for new targeted therapies.