Stanford physician-scientist Michelle Monje, MD, PhD, conducts research on a particularly heartbreaking form of brain tumor. Diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, a brain cancer of school-aged children, has a five-year survival rate of just one percent. The prognosis has not improved in decades, in part because the tumor is rarely biopsied in living patients, making tumor samples that scientists might study very scarce.
However, for the last five years, Monje’s lab has been culturing cancer cells from tumors donated by the families of recently deceased patients. The cell cultures, which Monje has been sharing with scientists around the country, could give valuable information about how the cancer grows and what drugs might work to fight it.
Today, NBC Bay Area featured a Gilroy family who just donated their daughter’s tumor. After 6-year-old Jennifer Kranz passed away earlier this week, Monje’s team began working to grow the tumor cells.
“If I can stop another mother, another grandmother, another aunt from feeling the way I do right now, I will,” said Jennifer’s mother, Libby Kranz, in the NBC story.
“I think it is the definition of selfless to donate tissue in this way,” Monje told NBC.
Previously: Emmy nod for film about Stanford brain tumor research – and the little boy who made it possible, Big advance against a vicious pediatric brain tumor and New Stanford trial targets rare brain tumor