Anthony Graves, MD, PhD
Project: Therapeutically Targeting OPA1 in N-Myc Amplified Neuroblastoma
Neuroblastoma is a cancer of the peripheral nervous system occurring primarily in young children. While low-risk cases have a high survival rate, children with later-stage neuroblastoma have much poorer outcomes. Neuroblastoma accounts for more than 10% of all deaths in children with cancer. The current treatments are highly toxic, yet often fail to treat the disease effectively.
Anthony Graves, MD, PhD at the University of Pittsburgh, was awarded a CureSearch Young Investigator grant for his research on a high-risk subtype of neuroblastoma. Dr. Graves studies the biology of a particular gene known to be involved in this high-risk subtype. This gene, the Myc gene, is a promising target for anti-cancer drugs. Myc is involved in how cells divide; it is present in normal cells and cancer cells, but in certain types of cancer, there are more copies of the Myc gene than there should be. Dr. Graves examines the Myc gene to try to understand why more Myc changes the tumorigenicity of neuroblastoma. His area of focus is on how Myc impacts the mitochondria, a part of the cell that regulates cell death and provides cell energy. Dr. Graves believes that by targeting a particular protein involved in mitochrondrial function, OPA-1, researchers may be able to target tumor cells affected by Myc amplification, providing a less toxic and more effective treatment for neuroblastoma.
As the result of this project, Dr. Graves made significant contributions to the understanding of neuroblastoma:
- 1 therapeutic target identified
- 5 genes investigated for their role in neuroblastoma
- 1 new collaboration developed