The lab is currently leading an international effort to define the differences between normal Schwann cells and NF1 mutant Schwann cells that may be relevant to neurofibroma formation and to the development of malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor (MPNST). Our current approach is to use large-scale microarray analysis to identify misregulated genes, and then to test their effect on tumorigenesis in transgenic mice.
The microarray analysis is being conducted in collaboration with Shyra Miller, PhD, and Bruce Aronow, PhD. This approach has already led to the identification of BLBP (brain lipid binding protein) as a potential novel target. Another project developing from these studies is characterizing the role of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) in neurofibroma formation, with the goal of using it as a therapeutic target in clinical trials.