The Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute is the research arm of the Department of Neurosurgery. The institute has research programs investigating the blood-brain barrier, immunology, molecular oncology, gene therapy, neural stem cells and nano-medicine. While conducting innovative basic research, the core mission of the institute is to swiftly and safely translate the latest research discoveries into clinical trials to benefit patients with brain tumors and other conditions affecting the brain and central nervous system.
The Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute has dedicated research teams in many different areas of endeavor. The blood-brain barrier team has discovered more effective ways to deliver anti-cancer drugs and other therapeutics across the blood-brain barrier to targets in the brain, while leaving healthy tissue unaffected. One such drug, bradykinin, actually increases drug delivery to brain tumor by more than 1,000 percent.
Institute researchers also have discovered that a certain type of T cell is related to the clinical progression of glioblastoma multiforme, an aggressive form of brain cancer. Investigators are working on ways to allow T cells in the brain to more easily recognize and destroy tumor cells.
The gene therapy group has developed a virus, DM33, which is safe and effective in the treatment of brain tumors in rodents. The group is working on translating their research from the laboratory to develop the virus as a potent anti-tumor killer for use in brain tumor patients.
Institute researchers have also developed a dendritic cell vaccine made from a patient’s own tumor cells, which has shown great promise, especially when administered with chemotherapy. Other researchers have identified a type of laminin as a biomarker for malignant tumors, both brain and breast, which is correlated with tumor growth and progression. The institute was also awarded a grant to investigate possible correlations between air pollution and brain tumors.
In the area of stem cell research, scientists are identifying novel therapeutics for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases and brain tumors. One such treatment involves viral gene delivery techniques to manipulate intrinsic factors associated with neural stem/progenitor cell proliferation, differentiation and cell fate choices. The stem cell team is also examining the potential of neural stem cells as a source for cell replacement therapy.
Fellows and residents in neuroscience educational programs at Cedars-Sinai rely on the cutting-edge research taking place at the Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute to stay abreast of the latest advances in neuroscience research. The institute also provides a place for fellows and residents to learn and develop their research skills in the fields of basic research and translational research.
Keith L. Black, MD
Chairman, Department of Neurosurgery
Director, Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute
Ruth and Harvey Lawrence Chair in Neuroscience
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