Maciej Lesniak MD

University of Chicago Brain Tumor Center, Chicago, IL Director, Neurosurgical Oncology

Research Focus: Tumor Targeting & Vector Development

Cancer Type: Brain Cancer

Award: Young Investigator

2006-2009 Research Grant:
Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the most common primary malignant tumor of the adult central nervous system. Despite recent advances in therapy, the median survival rate remains measured in months rather than years. The recurrent nature of the disease has prevented the development of effective long-term therapies. Oncolytic viruses that are replication competent in tumors, but not in normal cells, represent a novel approach for treating neoplastic diseases. The goal of this project is to develop a virus that utilizes a glioma specific promoter and binds to a receptor that is over-expressed on malignant brain tumors. Preliminary data suggest that a replication defective form of the adenovirus shows significantly greater transgene expression than a wild-type virus. We therefore propose to create a novel oncolytic vector that utilizes transductional and transcriptional control to assess efficacy against malignant glioma in vitro and in vivo.

Current Research:

Dr. Lesniak is still focused on glioblastoma multiforme and other malignant brain tumors. He aims to treat these tumors through three novel approaches: immunotherapy, gene therapy, and nanotechnology. These types of treatments seem to be promising alternatives to the methods currently used to treat brain tumors (a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation). Only about 26% of patients who receive the current standard of treatment survive after two years. Dr. Lesniak’s methods are likely to not only be more successful and make more of an impact on the tumors, but will also provide a treatment that is less invasive and less likely to affect healthy surrounding cells and tissue, as do radiation and chemotherapy. One of the treatments that Dr. Lesniak has developed includes the successful delivery of oncolytic adenoviruses through mesenchymal stem cells which target a patient’s tumor directly. He is also renowned for his work in performing awake craniotomies. In this procedure, while surgery is performed on the brain the patient is kept awake. This allows the doctor to monitor the patient’s motor skills, speech, and a variety of other functions to make sure nothing is going wrong while the surgery is actually happening. This unique approach to surgery has huge implications for not only the removal of brain tumors, but for other neurological procedures as well.

Return to Fellows List