Iron Matt grant awarded to pursue gene target for DIPG

Iron Matt Larson

cc-TDI receives grant from Iron Matt to pursue promising new gene target for Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma

The Matthew “Iron Matt” Larson Foundation for Pediatric Brain Tumors has awarded a grant to Dr. Noah Berlow at the Children’s Cancer Therapy Development Institute to develop a treatment for an otherwise incurable form of childhood brain tumor called DIPG. This research project follows cc-TDI’s recent publication in the journal PLoS One identifying the tumor surface protein IL13RA2 as a promising target of new drugs for DIPG. More than two dozen families of children with DIPG contributed to this study to understand the aggressive nature of DIPG, and thus how to develop new combination therapy options to treat it.

DIPG brainDIPG occurs at many ages but often in children under 10 years old. DIPG represents one of the most devastating diagnoses among pediatric cancers, being a form of high-grade glioma (glioblastoma) located in the midbrain. It’s a brutal form of cancer, with an average survival rate of nine months and negligible effect of any treatment except radiation (itself damaging), which adds 2 months to overall survival. DIPG patients face critical unmet clinical needs, which cc-TDI seeks to address in this proposed project.

Matthew Larson was a strong, fearless young man who was diagnosed with another form of childhood brain tumor, Choroid Plexus Carcinoma (CPC).  CPC is extremely rare and occurs most often before the age of three. ‘Iron Matt’ fought through his disease and endured the difficult procedures and challenges faced by every child with a rare and deadly brain tumor. After months of procedures, Matt was in remission and was blessed with a relatively normal childhood playing sports, fishing, and learning to cook like his hero Emeril.  Sadly, after three years of remission, Matt’s cancer returned.  Despite surgeries radiation therapy, and several rounds of chemotherapy, Matt’s tumor continued to grow and spread. Even as his cancer was growing, Matt showed the indomitable strength and courage that defined his life, always ready to run the next race. Matthew passed away at the age of 7, but his family and friends have never forgotten. One of his many legacies is the Matthew Larson Foundation for Pediatric Brain Tumors, dedicated to finding new cures for rare and deadly childhood brain cancers.

cc-TDI is honored to work with the Iron Matt Foundation to find new cures for DIPG. Their dedication to fighting deadly pediatric brain tumors will help make this disease, and someday all pediatric brain cancers, universally survivable.

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