Johns Hopkins All Children’s Scientist Makes Key Cancer Discovery

Posted on Dec 18, 2020

Ranjan Perera, Ph.D., in his lab at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital in 2019.
Ranjan Perera, Ph.D., in his lab at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital in 2019.

A Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital researcher was the senior author on a study that may lead to more effective therapies for medulloblastoma, a common form of pediatric brain cancer.

Ranjan Perera, Ph.D., led the study, which discovered a diagnostic marker that distinguishes a fast-growing type of medulloblastoma from a less aggressive type. The findings were published Dec. 1 in the Journal of Neuro-Oncology.

Medulloblastoma is one of the most common types of brain tumors in children, according to the American Cancer Society. The biomarker the team discovered differentiates aggressive group 3 medulloblastoma from the more treatment-responsive group 4 medulloblastoma. The two types look identical under the microscope and are currently classified as group 3/4 and treated the same, explains Perera, who is director of the Center for RNA Biology in the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Institute for Fundamental Biomedical Research, a senior scientist in the hospital’s Cancer & Blood Disorders Institute and an associate professor of oncology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

“Understanding the distinction between these two forms of medulloblastoma can help us explore new approaches to the treatment-resistant form and potentially discover new avenues of therapy,” Perera says.

Perera collaborated on the study with George Jallo, M.D., and other colleagues in St. Petersburg, Florida, where he is based, and in Baltimore where he is a member of the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center. The research was funded by the Ian’s Friends Foundation and the Hough Family Foundation.

“This is an important development in neuro-oncology,” says Jallo, a neurosurgeon who is vice dean, physician-in-chief and medical director of the Institute for Brain Protection Sciences at Johns Hopkins All Children’s. “With more study, we believe this can lead to better lives for children with medulloblastoma.”

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