Skip to main content

Research supported by a Young Investigator Award reveals one reason brain tumors are more common and more harmful in men than in women

By January 26, 2015December 18th, 2023CTF in the News, NF1, Science & Research

Funded in part by a 2012 Young Investigator Award, Tao Sun, PhD, completed a study in Dr. Joshua Rubin’s laboratory at Washington University with a great potential to advance current understanding of tumor forming processes related to NF1, and may also provide useful insights into the basis for sex difference in other human diseases. Dr. Sun and colleagues found that retinoblastoma protein (RB), a protein known to reduce cancer risk, is significantly less active in male brain cells than in female brain cells in a mouse model of brain cancer. Dr. Sun’s finding may explain why brain cancers are more common in men than in women and it holds tremendous potential to advance our understanding in human cancer formation and treatment. Dr. Sun is the leading author of the following article detailing the study:

Click here to read the published article in The Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Also part of his CTF-funded research, Dr. Sun participated in a multi-center study that looked for potential genetic modifiers for NF1-associated optic nerve gliomas. Using SNP array analysis with DNA specimens from NF1 patients, the researchers established a sex-specific role of cyclic AMP (cAMP) signaling pathways in NF1 gliomagenesis. Dr. Sun is a co-first author of the following published article:

Click here to read the abstract in Cancer Research.

The Young Investigator Awards (YIA) provide two-year awards to young scientists early in their careers, bringing them into the NF field and helping to establish them as independent investigators. Though a number of YIAs have made significant research findings and made notable publications, the main function of the YIA program has been as a ‘seeding mechanism’ for researchers who went on to secure larger grants from NIH and CDMRP NFRP. The Foundation’s “seeding” of the NF field with new talent has been hailed as a key reason why NF research has grown rapidly in the past 25+ years.