The Southeastern Brain Tumor Foundation received an exciting update from Dr. Hjelmeland recently regarding the outcomes and findings from her projects supported by the SBTF.
Early in her career, Dr. Anita Hjelmeland received an SBTF post-doctoral fellowship grant which encouraged a long term commitment to brain tumor research.
She has sought to understand and kill therapy resistant subgroups of brain tumor cells that have some similarities to neural stem cells, and are, therefore, called brain tumor stem cells. After establishing her laboratory at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Dr. Hjelmeland was awarded SBTF funds to determine how a new combination of drugs could better eliminate brain tumor stem cells. This drug combination included the standard of care chemotherapy temozolomide and a new inhibitor of carbonic anhydrase IX. Carbonic anhydrase IX is increased in brain tumor cells under relatively harsh conditions, including low oxygen, to help them adapt and survive. The Hjelmeland laboratory showed that adding the carbonic anhydrase IX inhibitor SLC-0111 to temozolomide reduced the ability of brain tumor stem cells to survive the chemotherapy.
Their findings, which are supported by research from other groups, suggest that SLC-0111 may be beneficial for brain tumor patients, and there is a possibility for clinical studies as SLC-0111 is in clinical trials for patients with metastatic pancreatic ductal cancer (NCT03450018).
Learn more about how your donations impact the research being performed to end brain tumors on our Impact page. Dr. Hjelmeland has received two SBTF Research grants, the first in 2005 and second in 2017. Furthermore, as part of the inaugural grant award class, Dr. Hjelmeland holds a special place in our history.