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1.  Autologous Tumor Lysate-pulsed Dendritic Cell Immunotherapy for Pediatric Patients with Newly Diagnosed or Recurrent High-grade Gliomas 
Anticancer research  2013;33(5):2047-2056.
Immunotherapy has the potential to improve clinical outcomes with little toxicity for pediatric patients with brain tumors. We conducted a pilot feasibility study of tumor lysate-pulsed dendritic cell (DC) vaccination in pediatric patients (1 to 18 years old) with newly diagnosed or recurrent high-grade glioma (HGG). A total of nine DC vaccine doses, each containing 1×106 cells per dose were administered to three out of the seven originally enrolled patients. Toxicities were limited to mild side-effects, except in one case of elevated alkaline phosphatase, which resolved without clinical consequences. Two patients with primary lesions amongst the three vaccinated were alive at the time of writing, both without evidence of disease. Pre- and post-vaccination tumor samples from a patient with an anaplastic oligoastrocytoma that recurred failed to demonstrate immune cell infiltration by immunohistochemistry. Peripheral cytokine levels were evaluated in one patient following DC vaccination and demonstrated some changes in relation to vaccination. DC vaccine is tolerable and feasible with some limitations for pediatric patients with HGG. Dendritic cell based immunotherapy may provide some clinical benefit in pediatric patients with glioma, especially for patients with minimal residual disease, but further investigation of this modality is required.
PMCID: PMC4018463  PMID: 23645755
Pediatric neuro-oncology; high grade glioma; dendritic cell vaccine; immunotherapy
2.  High-Dose Chemotherapy with Autologous Hematopoietic Stem-Cell Rescue for Pediatric Brain Tumor Patients: A Single Institution Experience from UCLA 
Journal of Transplantation  2011;2011:740673.
Background. Dose-dependent response makes certain pediatric brain tumors appropriate targets for high-dose chemotherapy with autologous hematopoietic stem-cell rescue (HDCT-AHSCR). Methods. The clinical outcomes and toxicities were analyzed retrospectively for 18 consecutive patients ≤19 y/o treated with HDCT-AHSCR at UCLA (1999–2009). Results. Patients' median age was 2.3 years. Fourteen had primary and 4 recurrent tumors: 12 neural/embryonal (7 medulloblastomas, 4 primitive neuroectodermal tumors, and a pineoblastoma), 3 glial/mixed, and 3 germ cell tumors. Eight patients had initial gross-total and seven subtotal resections. HDCT mostly consisted of carboplatin and/or thiotepa ± etoposide (n = 16). Nine patients underwent a single AHSCR and nine ≥3 tandems. Three-year progression-free and overall survival probabilities were 60.5% ± 16 and 69.3% ± 11.5. Ten patients with pre-AHSCR complete remissions were alive/disease-free, whereas 5 of 8 with measurable disease were deceased (median followup: 2.3 yrs). Nine of 13 survivors avoided radiation. Single AHSCR regimens had greater toxicity than ≥3 AHSCR (P < .01). Conclusion. HDCT-AHSCR has a definitive, though limited role for selected pediatric brain tumors with poor prognosis and pretransplant complete/partial remissions.
doi:10.1155/2011/740673
PMCID: PMC3087896  PMID: 21559259
3.  Multi-genetic events collaboratively contribute to Pten-null leukaemia stem-cell formation 
Nature  2008;453(7194):529-533.
Cancer stem cells, which share many common properties and regulatory machineries with normal stem cells, have recently been proposed to be responsible for tumorigenesis and to contribute to cancer resistance1. The main challenges in cancer biology are to identify cancer stem cells and to define the molecular events required for transforming normal cells to cancer stem cells. Here we show that Pten deletion in mouse haematopoietic stem cells leads to a myeloproliferative disorder, followed by acute T-lymphoblastic leukaemia (T-ALL). Self-renewable leukaemia stem cells (LSCs) are enriched in the c-KitmidCD3+Lin− compartment, where unphosphorylated β-catenin is significantly increased. Conditional ablation of one allele of the β-catenin gene substantially decreases the incidence and delays the occurrence of T-ALL caused by Pten loss, indicating that activation of the β-catenin pathway may contribute to the formation or expansion of the LSC population. Moreover, a recurring chromosomal translocation, T(14;15), results in aberrant overexpression of the c-myc oncogene in c-KitmidCD3+Lin− LSCs and CD3+ leukaemic blasts, recapitulating a subset of human T-ALL. No alterations in Notch1 signalling are detected in this model, suggesting that Pten inactivation and c-myc overexpression may substitute functionally for Notch1 abnormalities2,3, leading to T-ALL development. Our study indicates that multiple genetic or molecular alterations contribute cooperatively to LSC transformation.
doi:10.1038/nature06933
PMCID: PMC2840044  PMID: 18463637

Results 1-3 (3)