Support: Combined Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions and National Institutes of Health (NIH) Neuro-Oncology Research Training Program
Principle Investigator: D.M. Sciubba
Spinal cord ependymomas represent between 5-25% of spinal cord tumors. Although they are one of the more common spinal cord lesions, their overall prevalence is low at 0.26 to 100,000 persons, thus making them difficult lesions to study. Most studies rely on several decades of patient accumulation over a time course where treatment parameters have changed significantly. These lesions have no good chemotherapeutic treatment and instead rely preliminarily on surgical resection followed by radiation as a salvage treatment.
Animal models are limited as these have been based on tumor derivatives from animals instead of human precursors and may not generalize to the human population. In this study we seek to establish neurospheres from human ependymomas. Once these neurospheres demonstrate stability and histological and genetic similarity to known spinal cord ependymomas we can implant them into animal models. Once an animal model that is reproducible and adequately mimics human ependymomas we can use this as a platform to test chemotherapeutic agents and possible delivery systems. Also, as these lesions are close to critical spinal cord tracts and radiation-induced myelopathy, optimizing radiation treatment strategies would lower adverse reactions.