Lee Awarded Grant to Study Brain Tumors

Bong Seop Lee, PhD

Bong Seop Lee, PhD, a research scientist in the Cedars-Sinai Department of Neurosurgery, has received a $99,982 grant from the Musella Foundation For Brain Tumor Research and Information to study the diagnosis and treatment of glioblastoma multiforme, the most common type of malignant brain tumor and one that is highly aggressive. The study will use a special technique developed at Cedars-Sinai to deliver drugs to the affected sites.

While glioblastoma rarely metastasizes out of the brain, it often spreads into adjacent brain tissue, forming "satellite" tumors that can be easily overlooked and are extremely difficult to remove. Given that these small tumors often lead to recurrence of the disease, it is important to target delivery of therapeutic agents to them.

The yearlong study will examine the ability of a nanoprodrug to target tumor cells and tissue. Nanoprodrugs are tiny "prodrugs," or biologically inactive compounds, that can be metabolized in the body to produce an active drug. This technology has been developed at Cedars-Sinai by Lee and his collaborator, John S. Yu, MD, professor and vice chair of the Department of Neurosurgery, over the last seven years. Lee and Yu are co-principal investigators on the study.

Their study hypothesizes that the nanoprodrug may treat established glioblastoma tumors while also eradicating tumor cells and satellite tumors, thereby preventing metastasis and recurrence.

To test this hypothesis, cancer cells will be implanted in the brains of mouse models and then treated with the tumor-targeting nanoprodrug through intravenous injection. Survival rates will be analyzed to gain a better understanding of how effectively the nanoprodrug detects and eradicates micrometastases of the cancer.

"The use of nanotechnology in tumor targeting holds tremendous potential for the diagnosis and treatment of brain tumors. Conventional therapies do not deliver to the tumor tissue specifically and can therefore affect healthy tissues or organs," said Lee.

The Musella Foundation For Brain Tumor Research and Information, based in Hewlett, N.Y, is a nonprofit public charity dedicated to helping brain tumor patients through emotional and financial support, education, advocacy and raising money for brain tumor research.

A nanoprodrug developed by Cedars-Sinai researchers is designed to deliver therapeutic drugs to tumor areas. This confocal fluorescence image shows a strong accumulation of the therapeutic drug (shown in red) in a tumor bed but none in adjacent healthy brain tissue.