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Neuro-Oncology at Harvard Medical School

The DF/HCC Neuro-Oncology Program seeks to improve the standard of care for primary cancers of the central nervous system

The Neuro-Oncology Program seeks to improve the standard of care for primary cancers of the central nervous system and, toward this end, the Program fosters laboratory research in surgery, radiation biology, signal transduction, angiogenesis, tumour vaccines, oncolytic viruses, and immunotherapeutics.

Program investigators participate in all the major consortia for brain tumour clinical trials (ABTC, Alliance, RTOG, CERN, BTTC, Ivy Foundation, COG). Scientific activities are supported by a broad portfolio of peer-reviewed research grants from NCI and NINDS including an NCI SPORE grant to develop genetically stratified clinical trials of small molecule signal transduction inhibitors for high-grade adult gliomas. The Program currently has more than 90 members who represent all seven DF/HCC member institutions. Paediatric Oncologists, in particular from Boston Children’s Hospital, are especially well represented within the program as primary cancers of the brain have recently surpassed the leukaemias as the number one cause of cancer related death in children.

Sean Lawler,  PhD - neuro-oncologyDr Sean Lawler

The overarching goal of Dr Lawler’s laboratory is to develop and optimise novel therapies for brain tumours through the use of advanced research tools, animal models and collaborative enterprise. The Lawler lab utilises molecular biological approaches, high-throughput cell-based assays and preclinical immunocompetent and invasive mouse models of glioblastoma and collaborates extensively with investigators in bioinformatics, imaging, immunology, oncolytic viruses, virology and drug design. The major goal is to provide the foundation to move new therapies forward from bench to bedside; for example clinicaltrials.gov NCT03576612, which was developed based on data combining local immunostimulation with immune checkpoint blockade. The use of STING agonists would represent an exciting approach for GBM, and the lab have assembled a team with the strengths and qualities to investigate this in detail using the framework of tools developed in my research laboratory, and a clear path to patient application through our clinical connections at BWH and DFCI Neuro Oncology.

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immunotherapy brain tumors

Immunotherapy for Brain Tumors

Here, Dr Sean Lawler investigates if immunotherapy can be used to treat brain cancers - with expert analysis on the role of T cells.