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Dr. Xing Fan

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Primary Appointment: Neurosurgery
Primary PIBS Dept.: Cell and Developmental Biology
Other PIBS Depts.: Cancer Biology, Neuroscience
PubMed Name: Fan X
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  There is emerging evidence showing that a small population of cancer stem cells (CSCs) within cancers is responsible for tumor formation. Recent published data also showed that medulloblastoma (MB) and glioblastoma (GBM) contain such CSCs. The CSC hypothesis challenges traditional therapeutic concepts, suggesting that only by removing CSCs within a tumor can the cancer be cured. Our goal is to develop novel therapies for the malignant brain tumors MB and GBM based on the depletion of CSCs. It has been shown that the Notch singling pathway regulates normal stem cells in the central nervous system (CNS), and that MB and GBM contain CSCs with higher Notch activity. We have demonstrated recently that Notch pathway inhibition by gamma-secretase inhibitor (GSI) depletes CSCs and blocks engraftment in MB and GBM both in vitro and in vivo. This work represents a strong demonstration of a chemotherapeutic agent that can target CSC in solid tumors. A recent Phase I clinical trial study (2012) shows that 24% of glioma patients have prolonged stable disease upon GSI treatment.

Our current projects include examining the mechanism by which Notch, SHH, and Wnt signaling pathways and microRNAs that regulate these brain CSCs, and investigating the interaction between CSCs and their niche. The ongoing projects (09/01/2011 – 07/31/2017) are supported by two NIH R01 grants (R01CA148621 and R01CA163737). These studies will help develop novel therapies for these deadly diseases.