Finding better treatment options for glioblastoma is personal for Lawrence Pfeffer, PhD, the Muirhead Professor in the Department of Pathology in the College of Medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. He became interested in the brain cancer, when a friend and former colleague passed away suddenly from the disease. Since then, he has dedicated more than 30 years of research to the condition.
Dr. Pfeffer’s research focuses specifically on STAT3, a critical transcription inhibitor that prolongs and encourages the growth of cancerous cells within glioblastoma. He recently received a one-year, $126,421 grant from a medical research foundation that wishes to remain anonymous to continue his studies. With this award, Dr. Pfeffer and his research team will work toward the development of a treatment option that targets STAT3 and slows glioblastoma progression. “Previous studies have shown that STAT3 is a critical factor in this devastating disease,” Dr. Pfeffer said. “Findings from this work could have future impacts on patient care, which is our ultimate goal.”
Glioblastoma is among the most fatal forms of cancer. Its survival rate has changed little over decades, because patients often develop resistance to treatment methods. Glioblastoma patients have a survival rate of up to two years.
Dr. Pfeffer remembers his colleague who died from glioblastoma. “We worked together in the lab at Rockefeller University in New York,” Dr. Pfeffer said. “There were little to no treatment options then, so he passed away three months after his initial diagnosis. It sparked a lifelong research interest for me.”