About the Lab
Our research lab focuses on determining the molecular underpinnings of inherited and sporadic forms of various brain tumors in an effort to develop targeted therapies to treat aggressive cases.
The most common primary intracranial tumors, meningiomas, also happen to be most commonly benign—and therein lies the problem. Because of their perceived benignity, they have been relatively unstudied despite the fact that some are indeed malignant and the intracranial location of even benign meningiomas can be lethal. The most pressing problem, however, is that 20% of meningiomas are atypical or malignant and have a five-year recurrence rate of up to 41 percent. These high-grade tumors are resistant to chemotherapy and radiation, leaving surgery as the only treatment—provided the tumor is accessible. These tumors require a series of increasingly risky resections until the tumors become inoperable; the five-year survival rate is as low as 35%. Despite advances in neuroimaging and molecular neuropathology, we are currently unable to reliably predict whether an individual meningioma will behave aggressively
One of the greatest scientific achievements of our time has been the sequencing of the human genome. Identifying and characterizing the genetic makeup of disease opens the door to precision medicine—the right treatment for the right person at the right time. Precision medicine enables us to determine the basic biology of an individual and tailor health and medical approaches.
At the core of this revolution is the ability to define the genetic blueprint of individuals through genomic technologies and to link this blueprint to biology, health, disease susceptibility and the treatment of illness.
Meningiomas and Genetics
At Baylor College of Medicine, we have a world-renowned Human Genome Sequencing Center, one of three sites nationally to first sequence the human genome. Dr. Patel’s laboratory works in collaboration with the Sequencing Center with the goal of using precision medicine to bring forward novel therapies to treat these devastating tumors.
Dr. Patel has a research laboratory dedicated to understanding the molecular and genetic underpinnings of meningiomas. We use sophisticated sequencing techniques on surgically removed tumors to identify genetic mutations and signatures that may better classify these tumors and identify novel therapeutic targets. Dr. Patel develops patient-specific cell-lines and disease models that can be used to perform detailed studies as they pertain to a specific patient or to large-scale trials to evaluate novel therapies. Any promising results discovered from the sequencing studies can immediately be evaluated for treatment in these models.