January 16, 2024

Studying cells to improve medulloblastoma treatment

Research from Michigan Medicine experts is shedding light and potentially expanding options for patients living with medulloblastoma, an aggressive childhood cancer.

Medulloblastoma is a cancer impacting both very young and school aged children. 

When children get this type of brain tumor, they experience the process of the tumor blocking flow of fluid around the brain. 

This can cause severe headaches, vomiting, sleepiness, fussiness, and difficulty walking and coordinating movements. 

Treatment is intense, involving high dose chemotherapy, surgery, and sometimes radiation or stem cell transplants. 

During these months long treatments, children may lose hair, lose weight, be unable to eat and experience lots of upset stomachs.
Medulloblastoma is also a complex disease with many different genetic causes, making a one-size-fits-all approach to treatment impossible. 

John Prensner, M.D., Ph.D.

“Unfortunately, many patients with certain forms of medulloblastoma do not respond well to treatment,” said one of the senior authors John Prensner, M.D., Ph.D., a pediatric neuro-oncologist at University of Michigan Health C.S. Mott Children's Hospital and assistant professor of pediatrics and biological chemistry at Michigan Medicine.

“This research is critical in helping us begin to understand how medulloblastoma works on a genetic and cellular level so that patients can be treated, and new therapies can be developed, accordingly.”