New unique model to study childhood cancers in mice

A slice of a neuroblastoma tumor derived from chimeric mice stained by immunofluorescence for human neuroblastoma markers. Whitehead Institute, Rudolf Jaenisch’s lab.

A new way to model human neuroblastoma tumors in mice using chimeras – in this case, mice that have been modified to have human cells in parts of their nervous systems – has been introduced in Dr. Rudolf Jaenisch’ lab at the Whitehead Institute in Boston, USA.

“This may serve as a unique model that you can use to study the dynamic of immune cells within human tumors,” says postdoc Malkiel Cohen from the Jaenisch lab.

The results have just been published in the renowned journal Cell Stem Cell.

The researchers in the Jaenisch lab will use the new model to investigate potential treatments for neuroblastoma patients, but they also plan to test the new system’s potential for modeling other cancers such as melanoma.

“This is a model that will allow us to approach not only how to get rid of the tumor, but also to fix the immune system and recover those exhausted T cells, allowing them to fight back and deplete the tumor,” Malkiel Cohen says.

A 2018 LEO Foundation Grantee

Dr. Rudolf Jaenisch is a LEO Foundation Grantee, and this new study is partly funded by the LEO Foundation. Please have a look here.

He is a founding member of the Whitehead Institute, and Professor at the Department of Biology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA

Funding
Besides the LEO Foundation grant, this research was funded by the National Institutes of Health, as well as grants from the Emerald Foundation, the Melanoma Research Foundation, and the St. Baldrick’s Foundation.

 

Photo
A slice of a neuroblastoma tumor derived from chimeric mice stained by immunofluorescence for human neuroblastoma markers.

What is neuroblastoma
Neuroblastoma is a rare and unpredictable form of childhood cancer that affects around 800 young children in the US each year. Neuroblastoma tumors often occur in parts of the sympathetic nervous system. This includes the nerves that run parallel to the spinal cord and the adrenal medulla, and is part of the glands that produce hormones such as adrenaline.