Immune Signatures

Diagnosing Brain Cancer With A Blood Test

We brought together researchers from UCSD, the Sanford Burnham Institute and the BioDesign Institute at Arizona State University to do a large scale pediatric trial of a unique technology developed at ASU that could enable physicians to make a diagnosis of brain cancer (including recurrence) from a simple blood test. 

Dr. Stephen Johnston, a researcher at the BioDesign Institute at ASU, is someone we have known for years.  He has developed a potentially powerful technology that looks for immune “signatures” in simple blood samples.  He published an academic article showing that this system can detect GBM in a patient from a simple blood sample, even going so far as to show different profiles for tumors that are either “methylated” or “unmethylated.” (a key indicator or biomarker predicting the potential efficacy of the standard of care drug Temodar). 

In this project we brought Dr. Johnston together with Dr. Bob Carter, Chief of Neurosurgery at UCSD and with Dr. Rob Wechsler-Reya, a noted pediatric brain cancer researcher from the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute.  The Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation partnered with us to provide additional financial support. 

The goal of the project is to fully validate the Johnston technology in brain cancer, using medulloblastoma samples derived from UCSD and a consortium of pediatric cancer centers.  Once this pilot project is fully underway we will add centers, such as the University of Florida under Duane Mitchell, to continue to expand on the number and type of tumors profiled. 


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