ABC², PBTF and BraveCort cofund pediatric brain cancer screening research

November 2, 2021

ABC² (Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure), the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation and the BraveCort Foundation are working together to fund the development of immunosignature-based blood tests for detecting, classifying and monitoring pediatric medulloblastoma over time. 

The lead investigators of the study are Dr. Bob Carter of the University of California, San Diego, Dr. Stephen Albert Johnston of Arizona State University and Dr. Robert Wechsler-Reya of the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Research Discovery Institute.

What are immunosignatures?
Immunosignatures are a new, state-of-the-art technology with the potential to make early brain cancer detection a reality. They work by looking at how antibody signals in the blood change when the immune system – the body’s natural defense against invaders like cancer – detects a brain tumor.

“Imagine using results of blood tests to keep parents, patients, and physicians in the know about the course of the disease,” said Dr. Joanne Salcido, PBTF vice president of research and family support. “That is the end goal of this innovative work being piloted for brain tumors in childhood. We are excited to join ABC² in funding this potentially transformative project.”

“When sensing a tumor, the immune system tries to mount an attack using antibodies that recognize unique molecules produced by the tumor cells. Just a single drop of blood contains enough of these tumor-recognizing antibodies to reveal specific, accurate information about the particular characteristics of a tumor,” said Dr. Stephen Albert Johnson of the BioDesign Institute at Arizona State.

Simple blood tests analyzing the patterns of these tumor-recognizing antibodies have already been shown by Dr. Johnston's lab to recognize different types of adult brain cancer.

What this means for pediatric brain tumors
“The concept proposed is to identify different patterns of tumor-recognizing antibodies in the blood that indicate the presence/absence of medulloblastoma and differentiate between types of medulloblastoma tumors in children,” said Dr. Bob Carter of the University of California, San Diego.

“Once such patterns are identified, they will be examined in laboratory models to verify their accuracy, determine their relationship to disease progression and therapeutic response, and inform the search for new medulloblastoma therapy targets,” said Dr. Robert Wechsler-Reya of the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Research Discovery Institute.

“We’re excited to partner with PBTF and BraveCort and bring these excellent researchers together,” said Max Wallace, CEO of ABC². “If this work is successful, it could ultimately lead to blood tests that allow early detection, accurate diagnosis, and straightforward monitoring of pediatric medulloblastoma. Together with identifying potential new targets for therapy, these advances could significantly improve childhood brain cancer treatment.”

"Partnering with ABC2 and PBTF, BraveCort is able to help fund a research project that has the potential to streamline brain cancer diagnoses in children, vastly reducing uncertainty and stress on all involved," said Andrea Dahlberg, Co-Founder of BraveCort.

ABC² is a venture-philanthropy nonprofit that drives cutting-edge research and treatments for brain tumors. Through strategic partnerships with medical research centers, early-stage biotechnology companies and large multinational pharmaceutical companies ABC² has awarded more than $20 million in brain tumor research funding to highly qualified investigators and physician-scientists from 54 institutions and companies. Learn more at

The Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation is the world's largest nonprofit funder of research into one of the deadliest forms of childhood cancer. Our programs also include free educational resources, college scholarships for brain tumor survivors and mission-focused events such as Ride for Kids and Starry Night. More than 28,000 children and teens in the United States are living with the diagnosis of a brain tumor, and nearly 13 new cases are identified each day. To help us cure the kids, call 800-253-6530 or go to

The BraveCort Foundation was founded in 2013 to provide progressive researchers with the support they need to make critical breakthroughs in the field of pediatric brain cancer. Learn more at