In June 2017, Kelly Kicking Cancer's Danielle and Larry O'Mahoney were given an update on the brain cancer research activities at the Kenneth R. Peak Brain and Pituitary Tumor Treatment Center at Houston Methodist in Houston, Texas. Chief of neurosurgery at the Peak Center, Dr. Baskin, ushered us to a conference room and introduced his team which included several new members hired since our last visit in August, 2016.
Introductions were made all around, including the history of Kelly Kicking Cancer, Kelly's heroic battle against brain cancer, and how we learned of the Peak Center and their fight against brain cancer.
The staff made presentation of their most recent research. Dr. Pichumani presented his research on how glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) cancer cells derive their energy. GBM are energy hogs, and derive only about 15% of their energy needs from the typical cellular energy source... glucose. Using his specialized NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance) to trace tagged carbon atoms, he determined the additional energy sources from which the GBM are deriving their energy. A treatment scheme for cutting off those energy sources is now being developed. This treatment should eventually lead to the starvation and death of GBM.
Dr. Yun presented her work on modelling of the GBM and how various treatments affect it. Her modelling significantly reduces the time needed to design and test various treatments. During the course of her work she has learned that the sampling techniques used to obtain and preserve GBM have an effect on the results of subsequent tests on those GBM cells. She now has a standardized protocol for sampling and preserving GBM obtained during biopsies.
Dr. Yun then gave us a tour around the laboratories at the Peak Center. These are truly state of the art facilities for research into brain cancer. The Peak Center now has a complete manufacturing facility capable of producing "FDA grade" drugs. This is more than a "prototype" shop, and allows them to produce new drugs for use in brain cancer treatment in a greatly reduced time frame.