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Fighting Brain Tumors in Kids


Read Time: 2 minutes

Photo of Samuel Cheshier

Samuel Cheshier, MD, PhD
Physician-Scientist, Huntsman Cancer Institute
Associate Professor of Neurosurgery, University of Utah

"My 5 is for an amazing kid I took care of who lost his fight to medulloblastoma."
—Samuel Cheshier

When Samuel Cheshier was 13 years old, his favorite cousin died of colon cancer. "I always think of him when I do cancer research," Cheshier says.

As a pediatric neurosurgeon, he witnesses firsthand the devastation that malignant brain tumors cause patients and their families. The desire to help them motivates his basic science research, with the goal of translating experiments into therapies.

"My laboratory has been utilizing a powerful immune therapy strategy where interactions between tumor cells and specialized cells immune cells called macrophages are blocked, which allows the macrophage to eat the tumor cell," Cheshier says.

The concept of an organized fight against cancer is what drew him to the 5 For The Fight Fellowship at Huntsman Cancer Institute.

"My clinical practice specializing in brain tumor surgery has provided my laboratory with a large number of patient-derived malignant brain tumors from both pediatric and adult patients," Cheshier says. "These have been used to conduct an excellent preclinical evaluation of a possible immune therapy to fight five pediatric malignant primary tumors."

The fellowship will help speed up the pace of his research, allowing him to start a new project using a nanotechnology-based approach to build agents from the molecules up that specifically target cancer cells.

"Some of the deadliest tumors we target are medulloblastoma and pediatric glioblastoma multiforme," Cheshier says. "Both are malignant high-grade brain tumors, often fatal. Medulloblastoma is the most common malignant brain tumor in children; it accounts for about 20% of all pediatric brain cancers. Glioblastoma accounts for 3–15% of primary central nervous system tumors in children and are always fatal. So, more knowledge in this area is very urgently needed."

Advice for Young Scientists

"Go for it. It is fun!"

What He Would Tell Patients

"I am working to figure out brain cancers so that we can offer every child with brain cancer a treatment that works and is safe."

Cancer touches all of us.