Guest post: At the core of cancer research, shared resources accelerate translation

March 2, 2012 | Posted by Guest in Outsourcing Trends |

This is a guest post by Deborah Berry, Co-Director for the Histopathology and Tissue Shared Resource (HTSR) at Lombardi Cancer Center (full bio below). 

One of my colleagues at the Georgetown University Medical Center, Todd Waldman, is studying the genes that cause glioblastoma multiforme (GBM).  GBM is the most common and deadly form of primary brain tumor; it was infamously responsible for the death of Senator Edward Kennedy in 2009.  Todd’s group discovered a chromosomal deletion in a GBM cell line that resulted in the loss of a gene – STAG2 – which is important for proper segregation of genetic material during cell division.   Many cancers are associated with abnormal numbers of chromosomes (aneuploidy), so Todd suspected that the absence of STAG2 could be a source of chromosomal instability that leads to tumorigenesis.

They tested for and found STAG2 deletions or mutations in multiple GBM cell lines, they found that knocking out STAG2 in healthy cell lines led to chromosomal instability.  From there, Todd and his group wanted to assess the potential clinical relevance of their finding by looking beyond cell lines.  So, they came to our core facility – the Histopathology and Tissue Shared Resource at Lombardi Cancer Center – and asked us to test primary tissue samples for loss of STAG2.  Our immunohistochemistry department stained multiple Tissue Microarrays (TMAs) containing numerous glioblastoma and Ewing’s sarcoma samples for STAG2 and discovered that it was indeed missing in a number of tumors.  You can see the results for yourself in the paper that Todd and his colleagues published in Science last year.

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