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Spotlight on Research

Meet Dr Ahmed Mohyeldin

sacral chordoma
sacral chordoma (MRI)

This month’s Spotlight on Research in the Quiñones Lab focuses on the work of Post-Doctoral Research Fellow Ahmed Mohyeldin and his work on a rare bone cancer that may offer important clues to help the fight against brain cancer.

This rare cancer is called a chordoma, a type of bone tumor that is just as aggressive as brain cancer but often grows in the spine and the base of the skull. Chordomas are notorious for being resistant to chemotherapy and radiation and despite the most aggressive surgical measures taken they often recur.

Dr Ahmed Mohyeldin
Dr Ahmed Mohyeldin

Dr Mohyeldin and his team that includes graduate students Sagar R. Shah, Ishrat Ahmed, and Guillermo Vela, as well as Post-doctoral fellows Hadie Adams and Javier Avendaño have focused their efforts on understanding what makes this cancer so aggressive. With the help of cell culture technologists Kesha Johnson and Liron Noiman the team has been able to successfully grow these cancer cells in the laboratory to study them more closely. In fact, they are one of the first teams to ever successfully grow these cancer cells and fully characterize them.

These newly established chordoma cell lines have yielded some interesting clues to how this cancer grows. The team has focused their research around a unique developmental protein called Brachyury that is highly expressed in chordoma cells. This unique protein, which is supposed to be only expressed during a specific time during human development, gets turned on aberrantly (unusually) in chordoma cells.


The team has recently found that even brain cancers including gliomas and gliosarcomas are also able to turn on this protein as well and exploit its function to maintain cancer growth. In fact, the team is finding out that this protein may be the reason why gliomas and other aggressive cancers are so resistance to current therapy.

Dr Quiñones and the team hope that by better understanding chordomas and the role Brachyury plays in their biology, we can find more strategic molecular targets in brain cancer.

From left to right: Ishrat Ahmed, MS II, MD/PhD Candidate; Sagar R. Shah, GS III, PhD Candidate; Guillermo Vela, M.Sc
Learn more about Dr Quiñones and ongoing research at the Johns Hopkins Neurosurgery Brain Tumor Stem Cell Lab.

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