During brain development, cell fate factors play an important role in the coordinated regulation of neural stem cell proliferation and differentiation. The recent discovery of a small sub-population of ‘stem-like’ cells in brain tumors has shed light on the overlapping mechanisms between normal brain development and brain malignancies. There is a general consensus in the field that the brain tumors are maintained by the cancer stem cell population that has the capability to self-renew and differentiate into multiple cell types of the brain. The same neurodevelopmental cell fate factors have been shown to play critical roles in the formation and progression of brain tumors. Our laboratory studies the role of lineage-specific factors in brain tumor formation, progression, and therapy resistance. We are particularly interested in transcription factors that govern cell fate decisions during early brain development and their role in cancer progression and response to treatment.
Some of the ongoing projects are focused on addressing following questions:
- What genetic and epigenetic mechanisms are deregulated in cancer stem cells compared to normal neural stem/progenitor cells?
- Which neurodevelopmental pathways are hijacked by the cancer stem cells to promote therapy resistance?
- How can we exploit the interactions between cancer stem cells and the tumor microenvironment to specifically target brain tumor cells?
Ultimately, our goal is to provide a comprehensive understanding of the neurodevelopmental pathways hijacked by cancer stem cells and identify specific vulnerabilities to novel therapies.
Shwetal Mehta, PhDDeputy Director, Pre-Clinical Core Leader
Dr. Shwetal Mehta received her Master’s Degree from Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, India, in Molecular Biology. She then earned…