Children’s Minnesota physician Kris Ann Schultz, MD received the prestigious NIH/NCI R01-funding opportunity, entitled “Detecting DICER1: A global partnership to cure pediatric lung cancer,” which represents the first of its kind at Children’s. This award will help to support necessary research for the deserving and vulnerable population of children diagnosed with pleuropulmonary blastoma (PPB), not just in Minnesota, but around the world.
With new funding from the National Cancer Institute, Dr. Schultz will lead a global team of partners in her efforts to understand the mechanistic basis of PPB and its three subtypes, with the goal of developing treatment plans tailored to the individual needs of patients.
“We need better ways to monitor tumors,” said Dr. Schultz. “We need to know when the tumor is responding to treatment and when its completely gone. And when tumors do return, we need to find them at the earliest possible moment.”
This research extends existing work by the International PPB/DICER1 Registry team including Anne Harris, Paige Mallinger, Ann Mason-Eggert, Samantha LaBelle and Alexander Nelson. In collaboration with her long-term partner, Dr. Ashley Hill, CEO for ResourcePath, and a new partnership with Dr. Xaoli Ma, who leads the solid tumor program at Beijing Children’s Hospital, Dr. Schultz will coordinate a five-year study to use circulating tumor DNA levels to identify patterns of disease progression and development of new treatment strategies. This partnership took years of effort to develop, and builds upon earlier work performed by Dr. Yoav Messinger, and continual support from Ms. Anne Harris, who serves as senior coordinator for the International PPB/DICER1 Registry.
PPB is the most common form of childhood lung cancer. Research from Children’s has shown that PPB is linked to changes in a gene called DICER1, which serves as a dimmer switch for cell proliferation. Although PPB is generally curable when found early, children with more advanced tumors face a poor prognosis.